Breath of Life

One wouldn’t think CPR would be part of a karate class, but this weekend the Academy of Okinawan Karate certified its SWAT team members in CPR. One of our black belts, Mrs. Denise Miller (everyone say hi, as she’s out there reading), works as a nurse for a living, and she led the class.

It’s been a good 20 years since I last sat through a CPR class, and things have changed a bit. Specifically, they don’t appear to sweat breaking ribs or busting off the tip of the sternum anymore. After all, the alternative is a lot worse. Also, good Samaritan laws now protect bystanders providing CPR, whereas I remember being told last time that, if at all possible, you should ask permission to begin CPR. Fat chance of that if the victim is already unconscious, right?

Jokes abounded during the class, of course, but everyone paid close attention and we all felt we learned something. It’s nice to know that if we drop a punk with a well-placed shotei or a hanuchi ken to the throat, we could conceivably correct our mistake. We even learned to adapt one of our strikes for use in the Heimlich maneuver.

In the end, despite the changes in the counts — the number of compressions vs number of breaths — the principle remains the same: get a little more oxygen into the victim, then push it around the body. If it comes to it, it’s time to shock the victim:

Oh, wait, wrong shocker. Let me try again:

That’s better.

Just as with my karate, I hope I’m never in a position where I’m forced to use my CPR. Nevertheless, like karate, it’s nice to know it should the need arise.

My friend Clark saved a former co-worker’s life with an AED once. One of our former principals was refereeing a basketball game, and he passed out on the floor. Clark hooked up the AED and saved the man’s life. AEDs are becoming common in schools and emergency vehicles, which is a comforting thought. Even if you don’t know the timing of chest compressions matches the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”, you could save someone’s life.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

No comments

  1. Noah L says:

    Hi Mrs. Miller! Congratulations on your shodan!

    And yeah, Mike, CPR is definitely good, and just like karate in the “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it” category. Right alongside a spare tire, a firearm, and condoms :P. Definitely the wrong shocker on the first try, but at least it provides some comedic relief from the whole crushing-throats-then-reviving-people theme, haha.

  2. Mikey says:

    Hi Mrs Miller!

    I’m sure that wrong shocker joke means something to you martial arts people…

    The one time I was in position and ready to start CPR I was lucky enough to have EMS relieve me. The guy died, but since his head was concave on top I’m pretty sure that was a given. I learned something that day…even though people outside of emergency response positions have a right to decline to give CPR (though once you start you’re committed through qualfied relief or overwhelming fatigue), it’s not easy to say “no.” I *knew* in my heart Mr. Concave Head would die and I knew I could save myself some emotional turmoil by saying “no.” But I found myself unable to say “no”, and perhaps that is one downsides to qualification.

    I found out later that I’m a cold bastard…I really wasn’t bothered by the guy’s death. That’s good – because nowadays my longterm use of pain-control meds led to my intentional dropping of the qual. Too much liability. So unless it’s my wife or son or a very close friend…someone who I’m willing to assume the liability for…I have to say “no”.


  3. Sarah Wood says:

    I admit, I was laughing aloud and slightly horrified by “the shocker.” :P

    CPR training is very important; many people do not have the training, and even with training they can freeze up. The AED story is an example of just how important it is to have training and the equipment available. Your karate studio should have all the first aid supplies around (no doubt, it does).

    Oh, and is it called Okinawan because of the city, or is this a specific technique?

    ~Sarah Wood :: Changing The Face of First Aid

  4. Mike says:

    Mikey — you need to do some Google searches on the shocker. It’s got nothing to do with karate. ;)

    Sarah — Thanks for commenting. While not sanctioned, I’m sure the shocker would get quite a response from the victim were they conscious. Heh.

    In all seriousness, yes, I’m glad to know it. The staff are required to know CPR, but by teaching the SWAT team members (who are generally the more dedicated members and more likely to be helping with or directly teaching classes), chances are there will be several certified people on hand in case of a disaster.

    As for Okinawan, all karate comes from Okinawa since before it became part of Japan. By putting Okinawan in the title of the school, it suggests that our school is teaching a traditional style of karate. Our actual style is Shuri-Ryu, which was founded by an American but traces its lineage back to Okinawa.


  5. Mikey says:

    Now that I know it’s not related to karate, I don’t even have to look it up to know what it is. I think.

    I think it’s also safe to say not everyone would be shocked. Remember back to our con days, Mike…think of the young lady who used to drink a whole beer while grasping it with only her ornamental fatty tissues. No shock even possible there. At least not for her.

    BTW, Mike…are you writing a long-short for the unspeakable project? Or am I the only one? How about Coop and Peachy?


  6. Mike says:

    Well, Mikey, as the saying goes: “If you can’t shock her, Spock her!”

    Not sure yet regarding the unspeakable project. As for the other two, we should probably take it to email and figure it out. I’m guessing Coop’s not given it any thought yet, and Peachy may be caught up in other things yet.