*Please Learn CPR*
Is a 13 year old capable of learning CPR? YES!!! Can a 13 year old perform CPR on a real person? YES!!! I was 13 once (just graduated 8th grade) and I performed CPR on a 16 year old. I learned CPR 2 weeks prior to this incident. You can do it if you put your mind to it.
June 26, 1995 was the worst day of my life. A day that will stay with me forever. A day when I learned who I am.
The day started off as any other summer vacation day did. I worked with my Uncle Mike on a local island. He arrived at my parentsí house that morning to pick me up. We drove to the town of Milbridge where the boat was moored. The weather wasnít the best. There were about 4í choppy seas and it was windy. We decided to get underway and head for the island anyway. After pounding through the waves we made the 4.2 mile trip. Due to the size of the waves crashing into southeast shore, we decided itíd be kinda dumb to try and row ashore. We were getting tossed around and due to the strong winds and current the engine overheated. That problem was resolved and we proceeded around the south side of the island to the western side. We moored the boat there and went ashore to get some more water for the cooling system. It was too late in the day to start any work so we decided to head home. The trip up the bay was nasty.
Back at the dock he asked me if I could help him deliver a load of lumber to Tunk Lake so that he could build a storage shed the next day. It was only about 4pm so I said sure. We stopped by the lumber store and loaded the truck. Then we stopped at my parentís to let them know that we should be back in about a half hour. I got the usual "donít be late for supper" from mom.
We drove out to the lake (approx. 8 miles from town) and arrived at the camp and proceeded to unload the truck. After about 2-3 minutes (5 PM) we heard somebody yelling for help. The camp is right next to a popular swimming area so we assumed it to be some kids messing around. Then the yells turned to screams of desperation.
We ran down to the shorefront near the camp. From there we could see a person about 500 yards offshore who was waving his hands and yelling. Then he submersed and resurfaced a couple of times and went down. Another person who was further out in the lake on whatís called "Mermaid Rock" dove in and started swimming towards him. We realized that this was the real thing. Uncle Mike canít swim and Iím not a good swimmer.
I remembered seeing an aluminum boat at the camp next to the one we were at. We ran through the trees to the boat and flipped it over. There were no oars or oarlocks inside. Fortunately his oars were in the truck. As he launched the boat I ran back to the truck and grabbed the oars and our life jackets.
We started paddling the thing out into the lakeÖand it leaked, but we kept going. It seemed like an eternity before we arrived to where the other swimmer was. He was diving and looking. Finally he found the victim and brought him to the surface. We pulled the victim into the boat and then the swimmer who was totally exhausted. I immediately recognized the swimmer as Matt B. The victim was in cardiac arrest, but CPR was impossible in a sinking aluminum boat with 4 people in it. We paddled for the nearest shore and about 30í from shore where itís only about 4í deep I jumped out and started running while pulling the boat. (There went the money and everything in my wallet)
I beached the boat and then we literally dumped the victim out. It had been about 20 minutes since he went down and I knew the odds of resuscitation were against us.
We log rolled him and tried to drain the water out of his lungs. Some came out, but not much.
CPR was started. Uncle Mike hadnít had a CPR course for years so I wound up being in charge. I took chest compressions and had Uncle Mike doing breaths. After a few minutes of CPR, by-standers had figured out where we went and began to arrive from the public beach. Hereís Matt still in shock from the whole situation, hereís Mike & me doing CPR, hereís all these dumb@$$ by-standers standing around gawking doing absolutely no good. I asked Matt who this person was. He told me Chester Lovejoy. I never recognized him, he was my favorite substitute teacherís oldest son.
The girl who was in the group of his friends drove back to Cherryfield to call an ambulance. We had to yell at the by-standers numerous times to have somebody go stand by the road to flag down the ambulance...they were all to busy standing there oo-ing and aah-ing and OMGíing. Finally one of them went. At about 5:40 the ambulance arrived along with a couple of game wardens and a state trooper. Garry, (the trooper) left to go find Chesterís parents. The ambulance crew consisted mostly of people I knew, Dick, Debbie & Wayne, the 4th person was a new trainee. Debbie was the EMT-I who taught me CPR. Debbie and Wayne intubated him while Uncle Mike and me continued CPR. They also defibrillated, but a cardiac rhythm was never regained. He was transported to the nearest hospital (25+ miles away).
Uncle Mike and I were quite shaken upÖreality hadnít really set in yet though. We finished unloading the truck and then he took me homeÖsoaking wet. It was now about 7pm, 2 hours from when we said weíd be back. Dad was quite mad when I got home. This was the 2nd time in 2 months that Uncle Mike had brought me home soaking wet. The 1st time was due to a similar incident where I wound up going into the ocean in the middle of April to get a 8 year old kid. I got sick after that. Ocean water in Maine doesnít get much warmer than 50F even in the middle of August and in April itís about 40F. Pretty darn cold.
I pushed past dad and went into the house. Uncle Mike told dad to "leave him alone, let me tell you what happened." Dad couldnít have possibly imagined what just happened, he mustíve thought that I had fallen in the water from doing something stupid. After learning the story he had a totally different aspect on things.
I told mom what happened. I donít think she comprehended it either at firstÖnone of us did. Then all the extended family was called so that they wouldnít see it on the news and wonder what happened. Iím glad that my kid sister was only 6 at the time, so that she couldnít understand what was happening.
Late that night Wayne (one of the EMT-Iís) called me. He said that the ER crew, Debbie and him worked on Chester for about 3 hours without success and the doctor had to call the code. I knew full well that he was going to die, but I had the hope that heíd pull though. Hope wasnít enough. I talked to his parents and they reassured me that we did our best and there wasnít anything more that we couldíve done.
I didnít sleep that night. I didnít sleep for many nights. The next day Channel 7 news turned up in the driveway. They were the last people I wanted to see. I didnít want anything to do with them, but supposedly a 13 year old doing CPR is some heroic thing..blah blah blah. Mom insisted that I go talk to then, reluctantly I did and they got their story for the 6 oíclock news. I read the newspaper the next day and they had the story all screwed upÖtypical.
My boy scout troop heard about it. One of the game wardens who responded was a troop leader. Paperwork was submitted to the national council so that I would receive the "National Certificate of Merit" from BSA. I remember the night that mom took Uncle Mike and me to Bangor to a meeting for this. They wanted to make sure that all the facts were straight. I didnít want anything to do with it. I wasnít a hero, I lost him, thereís no bringing him back. I just did what I had to do, I tried and I failed. I didnít want an award. I didnít earn SH!T if he was alive, maybe I would have felt differently. Uncle Mike backed my parents and everybody else 100%. He strongly felt that I deserved this.
A few months later a Court of Honor was held for me. They presented me with the award. All of my family, the ambulance crew (in uniform), Chesterís parents, people from church, state police, game wardens, people I didnít even know and a lot of others were there. A lot of people stood up to speak. Some spoke of how they wished their kids could be like me, others spoke about things they had done, others about the pride of Boy Scouts, others just praised me on a job well done..and on and on it went.
I wasnít shutting it out. Just wanted it to be over. I had a hard enough time dealing with it in the first place and now everybody knew about it.
To this day Iím no hero and I still donít think I deserved the National Certificate of Merit. The plaque still hangs on the wall at mom & dads. I donít want it in my house as a constant reminder, I see it every time I visit them. I donít go around talking about what happened. Iíve been getting shivers just typing this. Iíll always remember it, I donít need people asking me "what was it like?" "youíre a hero" etc. (Rubieís are an exception, feel free to ask any questions or throw me any comments you wish)
It took me 3-4 years to fully get over it. It constantly nagged meÖwhat could I have done differentÖwhere did I screw up?
A couple of the EMTís on the ambulance nagged on me and finally got me to promise to join the service when I was told enough. I joined in July 1997 right before I turned 16. That fall as a sophomore in high school I took the EMT-B course and passed with an A-. Passed the state/national registry test and finally got licensed. That following January I joined the fire dept. Thatís how I wound up where Iím at now as a volunteer EMT/firefighter. I tried to quit EMT work onceÖ. that lasted just about 3 months before I was back at it again. Itís gotten into my blood now, so thereís no quitting.
The moral of the story is "LEARN CPR" no matter how old you are and donít get the attitudeÖ "Iíll never hafta use it".
I didnít think I ever would eitherÖlook what happened. 2 weeks after I finished the CPR courseÖI had to do it.
Be safe and stuff
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