A modest hero or a fearful one? But a hero

A few days ago I came across a woman who had collapsed at a healthcare thank-you rally for Congressman Harry Mitchell.  I thought looking at her that she had died.  The woman, “Clair,” in fact lived according to later reports, thanks perhaps to a bystander who administered CPR.

A story on azcentral.com said the man who may have saved Clair’s life soon disappeared.  No one apprently knew who he was.  I thought it strange he did not stick around.  I thought it strange anyway until I happened to talk to a nurse this morning at a clinic near where I live.

The nurse said healthcare professionals who are not on the job and perform CPR can be sued if the outcome for  the ill person is not good.  She said her employer’s insurance will cover her only if she is on the timeclock for the clinic, say, at the time.   So professionals have to purchase their own individual liability insurance, she said.   And even then, it doesn’t prevent a court appearance, a settlement, loss of time on the job.

It is a reason, the nurse said, that many professionals in the healthcare field, including doctors, are reluctant to come forward in emergencies on an airplane, on the street, whereever.  They can be sued.

Perhaps that is why the Good Samitan, the one who gave CPR to Clair, vanished.  He was a professional, he did not know if Clair would live or die and he didn’t want to be caught in the crosshairs of a trial lawyer’s eyes.  It is a shame your life might come down to a decision like this. 

I’d like to think if it were me and I had a chance to save a  life, I would do it, and I would do it without hesitation.    But you never know what you’ll do until it happens.  You may wait a moment too long, say, to begin CPR, trying to assess the situation with a life in the balance.

In that sense, I think, the man who performed CPR on Clair is a hero.  I watched him, whoever he was, professional or not, he did not hesitate. That moment of decision when he jumped down on his knees and began pressing the chest, that was what separated him in my eyes from the masses.  If a lawsuit was on his mind before, it wasn’t then.  He had forced it away.   He was technically prepared, he was focused, he acted, he gave Clair his best shot.

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