It could have been you

Football mania, here we go again.  My, my, how can I resist it?

Indeed, I can’t resist watching and talking about the 51 games of 24 national teams vying for the 2021 European Football Championship trophy (simply known as the UEFA Euro, scheduled initially in July last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

However, it is not the focus of this article. On 12 June 2021, Christian Eriksen collapsed during his Danish team’s match against Finland. According to media reports, the referee acted quickly by alerting medical staff, who administered promptly cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) treatment and took him to the nearest hospital in Copenhagen.

A CPR involves uninterrupted chest compressions of 100 to 120 a minute until paramedics arrive. It is a lifesaving technique necessary in emergencies, such as a heart attack or near-drowning experience. Although it can be done by untrained bystanders and first responders, I’m unsure of being able to do it.

Last September, on my way from work, I saw a man lying on a cemented ground. When I asked him what was wrong, I got no response. He didn’t move and kept his eyes shut.  It was one of those “Law of Murphy” days; my phone had run out of battery. I ran across the road and stopped a jogger, urging him to call the Service d’aide médicale urgente (SAMU – 15). “The man there isn’t breathing, and my phone is dead”.

He did not call emergency, but he came with me, dashing to the seemingly lifeless creature. He, too, did not apply CPR. However, he checked if the man was conscious or unconscious by tapping him on his shoulder and asked him loudly, “Are you OK?”

He fumbled in his pocket then dialled a number. It probably was less than 15 minutes since he had called the SAMU, but it felt like ages.  When I heard the loud siren coming from the eastern part of the city, I decided to leave, as I was late for my appointment with the City Hall to renew my French identity card.

Should I have applied CPR on him? The difference between doing something and nothing could be someone’s life, and I wish CPR was included in all school curricula in all nations. As well, all companies should have this in their staff workshop, training or development programme.

When the heart stops, our bodies do not get oxygen-rich blood, which causes brain damage in a few minutes; thus, time is the essence. The CPR can keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the brain and other organs until emergency medical staff arrive and treatment is applied to restore a normal heart rhythm.

For untrained people, like me, it is primordial to remember the emergency number: 112 for Australia, all EU countries and some parts of Asia; 911 for North America and many US territories; and 999 for the UK and British overseas territories. It’s also useful to remember the Police’s (e.g. France – 17) and Fire Department’s (France – 18) phone numbers, as their dispatchers can instruct you in the proper procedures until help arrives.

Then, of course, there are many emergency apps that you can install on your cell/ mobile phone. (Cell – US. Mobile – Europe. In Australia, it’s “mobile”; but for my family and friends, it’s only “phone” because landlines have become a rare household commodity).  Phone apps are valuable when the unexpected happens, such as saving a life or surviving a disaster, and some of them are free.

(You could have been me, the man approached to help out, or the person lying on the ground)!

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