Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Family works together in emergency situation

A few years ago we were enjoying a University High School reunion. A middle-aged man went to Walt, my son, and said, "Give this snapshot to your mother and say I thought she’d like to have it because she saved my life the night of our senior party."

Here’s what happened about 40 years ago:

Walt and about 25 other U-High seniors were having a wiener roast and hayride at our farm. They’d built a fire on big, flat rocks in a creek.

Chub hooked the wagon to the tractor. Nancy threw on several armloads of dry hay and drove down to the picnic spot where the graduates had just finished a freezer of fresh strawberry ice cream. They gathered their belongings and piled onto the wagon. Nancy pulled the load up the driveway to a pasture gate near the swimming pool; the floodlight was on so they could see to open the gate.

I was with two mothers, who were waiting in our living room to take students back to town. We heard the tractor and the singing as they came near. As Nancy pulled into the pasture a girl screamed, "Nancy! For God’s sake, stop the wagon!" We didn’t hear that from indoors, but suddenly Walt burst in yelling, "Mom! Quick! David’s stopped breathing!" We hurried out to where a boy was on the ground with a girl checking, unsuccessfully, for his pulse. He wasn’t breathing. I began mouth-to- mouth resuscitation coordinating with Walt, who did CPR.

Walt said, "Mom, I’ve only read about this; you’d better change places with me." Meanwhile Nancy, using the pool phone, was answering questions from the ambulance crew and directing them to the farm. She sent two students to an intersection to direct the ambulance driver to our farm. Later, she took a turn at rescue breathing.

About the time we heard the siren, David spit up something that looked like transparent glue. His pulse returned and he was breathing, not rhythmically, but enough that his color improved. Some of the seniors were weeping in relief; some were too stunned to speak or cry, and all were bewildered.

The ambulance pulled up beside the wagon. David was loaded onto a stretcher and into the back of the vehicle. One motioned for me to go along. With two men in front and one in the back with David and me, we were soon speeding to University Hospital.

"What happened?" the attendant asked. I said that I didn’t know.

Some said David didn’t eat, didn’t feel well when he came and had problems with asthma. Others said the girls were throwing dry straw, and the dust might be at fault. When David got quiet, some thought he was kidding; others thought he was asleep.

About halfway to the hospital, David retched, stiffened and made strange, frightening sounds. I thought he was a goner. The attendant immediately got busy and soon had him breathing again.

After a similar episode later that week, David was hospitalized and went through tests and treatment. He now lives out of state.

Credit goes to American Red Cross training in Life Saving and Water Safety. I’m proud that Nancy, Walt and I could work calmly together as an effective team during that frightening event.


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