Steve Finer began mountain rescue decades ago in Wyoming and has served as a longtime leader of Killington Fire and Rescue. He also works in Rutland Regional Medical Center’s emergency center, so his three-hour CPR class in the Sherburne Memorial Library was filled with personal experience. Gerrie Russel, president of Killington Active Seniors, coordinated the group. Finer volunteered to teach the course to give us the knowledge and confidence we need to help save someone’s life instead of standing helplessly by.
We learned how to react if someone’s in distress or loses consciousness and practiced on the dummies on the floor. First, “Tap and shout” to check for a response. If there’s none, or a gasping sound, then immediately call or direct someone to call 911. Next, begin 30 chest compressions (100-120 beats per minute) to raise the blood pressure. Two breaths of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation follow (preferable but optional). Then the 30/2 process is repeated until the person comes to, or the ambulance or rescue squad arrives and takes over.
The second part of the class was instruction in the use of the AED (defibrillator) machine. It measures the person’s heartbeat, then determines the best treatment, calling out orders to prepare for the shock and/or return to CPR. AED machines are available in many public places.
Finer also showed us the Heimlich Maneuver for choking, including how to help an infant or child who is choking or unconscious. With a little grandson, I was especially grateful to learn that. I’d recently resolved a brief choking episode and wanted to learn more. With a teacher as experienced and clear as Steve Finer is, I left the class feeling much more secure in being able to respond as effectively as I can.
I was considering the importance of CPR and how knowledge really is power. Then I thought how desperately our democracy needs resuscitation in these critical times. It seems that America is gasping for air, or unconscious of the danger we’re in, and I’m not referring to the threat of a refugee “caravan” one thousand miles away, fleeing on foot from the “murder capital of the world” and other dire circumstances. Sending troops to the border for a couple of months to wait while our leader-in-chief continues to irresponsibly incite more violence, hatred, and fear is an obvious scare tactic and distraction from a much greater threat: another American election in peril, in large part, due to the vice grip of the party at the helm.
In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Between 2014 and 2016 its constrictions and controls (mostly in Southern states) resulted in voter suppression and purged 16 million people from voter registries (often blacks and Hispanics, many times without cause), closing polling locations, causing long lines, requiring government IDs or changing voter ID requirements, and adding restrictions to voting for former felons, according to David Leonhardt of the New York Times.
Republican gerrymandering further skewed election results, along with targeted posts from foreign (mostly Russian) sources, and interference with poll numbers, are a few of the many ways our election was and is being undermined, once again.
In 2010, the Supreme Court also overturned another campaign reform act and permitted unlimited corporate and individual contributions. Citizens United was unleashed with immense power to sway our elections. “It gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to their candidates. This strikes at our democracy itself. I can’t think of anything more devastating to the public interest. It opened the floodgates to special interests to spend without limit,” President Barack Obama said.
And now, since the top percent received its massive tax breaks, Medicare, Medicaid, and our own Social Security fund (which our government has borrowed against and may soon steal from) are in danger with imminent cuts to pay for the billionaires’ tax breaks.
What can we do to fight this subversion? We must use our knowledge to resuscitate America. The CPR for democracy is the VOTE!
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Green Mountains of Vermont and Florida’s Gulf Coast.