Thank you Bee Gees for another song stuck in my head: Staying Alive." Alson S. Inaba, MD is a pediatric emergency physician at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu. According to a story printed in JEMS Magazine, Dr. Inaba identified a way to keep perfect time while doing CPR on a victim of cardiac arrest. As it turns out, the Bee Gees' classic
has a beat that's almost exactly 100 beats per minute - the same rate the American Heart Association recommends for chest compressions during CPR.
The University of Illinois medical school studied the effect the song had on keeping time during CPR. Five weeks after practicing CPR with the song playing on an iPod, doctors at the medical school were able to hum along without the music and keep time just a little bit faster than 100 per minute, which is perfectly fine when we're talking about chest compression.
Yes, this wonderful disco song from the '70s is right on tempo and it's being used for teaching CPR. Apparently they didn't choose to teach Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" which also has the same tempo. Or Roberta Flak's "Killing Me Softly" or Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive..." As we reviewed concepts like consent to treat my mind switched over to community healing and I began to drew some parallels...
1) Check first to make sure the scene is safe. Is it safe and healthy for a helper to get involved? No power lines or exploding cars or impending deluge? Ok to proceed. You're no help if you're a victim too.
2) Introduce yourself and share your level of skill. Operate within your scope of practice.
3) Ask permission to help. If it's a child, ask permission of the parent to treat the child. If someone is so injured or ill they are unconscious, consent is implied.
4) Don't help someone without their consent or it's considered battery.
5) Take personal protection measures - wear gloves, use a breathing mask etc.
6) Don't abandon those you begin helping.
7) Call for advanced help/backup
Something clicked in my head that these guidelines were applicable for mediation and trying to help bring healing. If it's not emotionally or physically safe for me, I shouldn't jump in. Also if my family needs me then I need to protect those relationships and keep my family life healthy. Volunteering too much and stretching my family too much would upset a very precious balance. That means saying no sometimes. I've seen people jump in and start "helping" without the courtesy of even introducing themselves in community dialogue sessions. I've even seen the damage that has happened when someone explicitly told a "helper" to back off who chose to go ahead anyway. It takes away from a person's dignity if they don't even have the right to accept or deny help. From time to time I've been asked to do more than I was prepared to give -- good intentions only go so far. That means calling for backup sooner rather than later.
CPR is about performing a set of proven skills and following a safe process in order to create the best chance for effectively helping the person you're trying to help...and keeping the helper healthy so that he/she can successfully help another day. Likewise, in community mediation there are proven ways to be the most helpful without becoming unhealthy in the process. Like the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Phillipians "Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive..."
Ironically, I just played the above video and my son said "Hey -- I know that song...it's the Chipmunk cheeseball song." Hmm. I'm just guessing that this CPR song isn't going to translate to the next generation if they are thinking about cheese puff snacks rather than the original lyrics. Something ironic about the smash up of cheeseballs as one of the least heart-healthy snacks out there. HA.