Normally, our usher teams do the usual work of warmly greeting people as they enter the Church, handing out bulletins, collecting the offerings, and acting as guides during communion. But every so often, someone has a medical emergency during a service. Most of our emergencies, although rare, involve a person who falls, faints, or has a stroke or heart attack.
A group of ushers recently decided that, in addition to calling 911, it would be beneficial for them to learn how to use the automated external defibrillator (AED) that sits in the back of the Church during the services, how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to provide first aid in the few critical minutes before the EMTs (emergency medical technicians) arrive.
Two three-hour courses were recently given at St. Philip’s to interested ushers and other members of the congregation, with a very experienced firefighter/paramedic as the certified instructor. One course taught CPR and use of the defibrillator; the other taught basic first aid. (Don’t forget all of those snake warning signs posted around the church campus!) Everyone who took the courses agreed that the sessions were fun and gave them the skills and especially the confidence to handle a health emergency. Certificates for each course, valid for 2 years, were also issued to each person who took a course. One parishioner needed the CPR certificate for his dental practice.
Our AED, which was a generous gift from Barbara (Bobbe) Dexter in memory of her late husband, Richard, who was a cardiologist in Tucson, is an amazing machine that is easy to use. It talks to the rescuer using it through the entire procedure and even determines whether defibrillation is or is not needed and whether it should be administered multiple times.
Marilyn Lindell, who many know is a registered nurse and former usher leader, has graciously volunteered to write a compact health emergency handbook specifically for our ushers and church staff.
For St. Philip’s ushers, learning how to handle a health emergency in Church is an important opportunity to improve their ministry. Of course, a basic knowledge of CPR and first aid is also important for everybody, no matter what the environment. Haven’t we all heard that most accidents happen in the home?
The courses will be offered again in the autumn and perhaps annually or biannually after that; a modest fee will be charged. All ushers are strongly encouraged to take at least the CPR course because nothing substitutes for hands-on training and practice provided by a certified instructor and the use of a CPR mannequin. The courses will also be open to interested parishioners. Any questions about the courses and suggestions as to when they should be offered should be addressed to Bob Kamilli (firstname.lastname@example.org; 520-349-9336).