By Randy Mains

When I was chief pilot at San Diego Life Flight air medical program, on my time off I enrolled in a seven-month EMT class. There have been several incidents since taking that class when I’ve had to use those skills to lend assistance to people in need. That is one reason I think everyone should take, at the very minimum, a first aid course. You never know when you may be in a position to offer medical assistance or even save a life.

I wrote about one of these incidents in My 2 Cents column entitled “To Save a Life” in the September 2015 issue of Rotorcraft Pro. I recalled a 2005 incident when I literally saved a young Pakistani boy’s life by giving him CPR after he drowned in a hotel swimming pool. I could see that the “lifeguard” who took the lifeless form from the water was doing nothing to revive the boy other than shaking him up and down. Appalled that the hotel “lifeguard” had no first aid training and unwilling to see the boy die in front of my eyes, I stepped forward and took the boy from his arms, laid him down, and proceeded to give him CPR. After about four minutes of giving the boy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, to my great relief I brought him back from most certain death.

I was working as an offshore helicopter pilot for Abu Dhabi Aviation in the Middle East at the time, a country that has no

10 Sept/Oct 2020

good Samaritan laws; meaning had the boy died, I would have most certainly gone to jail for murder.

More recently, something happened to me that gave me a deeply profound personal appreciation for what first responders and medical personnel everywhere face on a daily basis during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. I unwittingly faced a medical conundrum. It could have turned into a moral conundrum as well, if the elderly cyclist I had stopped to help this past week had suddenly stopped breathing after falling off his bike and being knocked unconscious.

It happened when I was driving home from the hardware store around midday on a quiet, two-lane street about a mile from my home. I witnessed an elderly bicyclist coasting to a stop about 25 yards in front of me. He slowly pulled off to the right of the road, which was delineated by a small raised hump in the road. As he stepped off his bike he suddenly lost his balance, his bike turning 90 degrees and causing him, as if in slow motion, to do an over-the-handlebars face-plant at the edge of a neighbor’s front lawn.

As I passed by slowly, I noticed he laid unmoving on the ground and I could see he wasn’t getting up, so I pulled over to see if I could lend assistance. Kneeling

down at his side, he appeared totally lifeless, with blood beginning to pool around his nose and face and turn the grass red.

I leaned my head down to determine if he was breathing. I was relieved to see that he was. His respirations sounded normal but he remained unconscious. I spoke to him several times to try to rouse him, but I got no reply. He was out cold.

A minute or two passed and a car approached, slowing down when he saw us at the roadside. I flagged him down. A man got out and I told him to call 911 for an ambulance, which he did.

As the man who’d stopped to help talked to the dispatcher on his cell phone, I offered a short report for him to relay that the cyclist was in his 60s, unresponsive, breathing regularly, and had a pulse of around 75. Leaning my head down to the cyclist’s head, I got close enough to see he was bleeding from either his nose or his mouth. I was loath to move him to inspect further, fearing to move his neck in case he had suffered a neck fracture.

The man answered the dispatcher’s questions on his cell for about two minutes, and by this time I estimated the cyclist had been unconscious for four or five minutes or so. The strap of

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