Less than a week ago, a story appeared on the Internet and caught fire as online surfers read it and viewed photos of the event. The story was about a 5-month-old baby boy who stopped breathing in his aunt’s SUV while they were in heavy traffic on a Florida highway.
A newspaper photographer was in the car behind her. When he heard her screaming and saw what was happening, he stopped, too, and began moving among cars to alert a police officer and anyone who could help resuscitate the infant.
A police officer was nearby and another woman left her car to try to help the distraught aunt. The story ended well. Rauseo’s efforts resuscitated little Sebastian. When he stopped breathing again, she performed CPR once more. Emergency help arrived and the youngster was taken to a nearby hospital and was doing well at last report.
The photographer gathered his camera and took pictures at the scene of the resuscitation efforts after he had secured help for the baby and his aunt. The pictures are compelling.
Afterward, the photographer told reporters the aunt was the real hero of the story, although the situation ultimately produced several people who came to help. Miami Herald photographer Al Diaz also acknowledged after the hoopla that he didn’t know how to do CPR himself.
To be sure, America is a increasingly litigious society. As a result, many people are reluctant to help out in emergency medical situations, even when the need is compelling, such as in the case of Sebastian de la Cruz. People live in fear that even Good Samaritans can get burned while exercising compassion and attempting to help others.
Helping in chaotic situations has always carried risks, but being in a position to help and choosing not to help can be an inhumane response. What is perhaps Christ’s most memorable parable, the story of the Good Samaritan, illustrates the improper response to someone in need by an aloof priest and a Levite, both of whom quickened their pace and kept walking instead of becoming first responders. Bible readers get the impression that the victim may have died without the unexpected care of a Samaritan traveler.
These days, there is no excuse for ignorance of CPR techniques and basic first aid. People of faith claim to care about people and their immediate and eternal well-being but sometimes are lax in securing the know-how and cultivating the motivation to reach out in lifesaving ways.
Surely photographer Diaz, who was moved by what he experienced on the busy Florida state highway and by what he photographed, will not have to say the next time that he never learned CPR. Someday, Sebastian will read clippings from Feb. 20, 2014, and be reminded that his aunt Pamela was the hero who literally saved his life.
Everyone should consider learning lifesaving techniques to protect family members, friends and even strangers should the need/opportunity arise. One of the best available sources for such training is the Red Cross, which has offices in almost every community. Simply inquire.
Every year or so, this space also urges donors to make provision for extending the physical lives of others, either while still living or upon death.
Regular blood donors help more people than they know when they give a pint of blood, which the body quickly replenishes. This process is easy and requires little time. Now is a critical time to get started or to get back in the habit; recent winter weather has resulted in blood drives being cancelled and community blood supplies dropping to dangerous levels.
Volunteering to be a bone marrow donor is a potentially lifesaving way to help people stricken with cancer. Relatives, friends and even strangers often give one of their kidneys to help someone else live and then live healthy lives themselves with the remaining kidney.
States have registries that enable people while they are living to make decisions to donate harvestable organs when they die to give several other people the opportunity to continue living and improve their health in the process. This intention can be included on the back of driver’s licenses, as well. This desire needs to be clearly communicated with immediate family members to ensure these wishes are carried out at the time of death.
People of faith are keenly aware that “we are our brother’s keeper” and our children’s, our parents’, other relatives’, acquaintances’, strangers’ — everyone’s. They also are fully aware that Jesus was in the lifesaving and life-restoring business and admonished his disciples to be like him in attitude, compassion and action.
Everyone can take steps to be better equipped to help people in this life and to make plans to help others significantly when we die.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.