A bit of local news surfaced today that is relevant to a public relations/publicity discussion.
This is why too much hype can be a bad thing.
Bystanders overreacted when lifeguards rescued three-year-old Yasmany Pepin from a pond n Milton, Mass. Sunday afternoon.
A man swimming with his daughter noticed the boy motionless in the water and carried him out where lifeguards noticed he had a pulse, cleared his airways and turned him on his side as he started to vomit. In clearing the airways, one lifeguard even administered mouth-to-mouth for a short period of time, stopping when the boy started breathing on his own.
This is the correct rescue procedure.
According to The Boston Globe two women then pushed their way through the gathering crowd in an apparent panic. They decided that CPR was necessary and fought with the lifeguards who assured the two that the situation was under control.
Reportedly, the women accused the lifeguards of refusing to help the boy and started to administer CPR, including chest compressions on him.
The situation escalated so far that one woman was actually arrested for kicking a state police officer who arrived on the scene.
This reporter recently spoke with fire fighters in the New England region who cautioned against the zealousness of would-be heroes interfering with the operations of trained rescuers and first-responders.
Furthermore, CPR, itself, especially chest compressions can be deadly if administered incorrectly and often result in broken ribs, even if done right. The two women in this case apparently administered unnecessary and counterproductive measures, against the advice of trained lifeguards in what appears to have been a disorganized panic on the part of the seemingly well-intentioned bystanders.
“If you need CPR, it doesn’t matter one way or the other if its done correctly, but if you don’t need it it can do a lot of harm,” said one firefighter. “If you do need CPR, it should never be held back, but if the person is conscious and breathing on their own and you give CPR, you could kill them.”
A British organization reported in 2004 that even trained paramedics can do it wrong.
State officials defended the lifeguards, and even the Boston Herald stopped short of completely asserting that the lifeguards were “pond scum.”
As reported by The Globe:
“We are confident that our lifeguards in fact made the appropriate determination about what was needed, what the boy needed, and acted properly,” DCR Commissioner Stephen Burrington at a news conference at the pond.
The reaction to this story has, however, been out of control, with people assuming that the lifeguards refusing to perform CPR and chest compressions was wrong and nearly killed the boy. The WCVB-TV, ABC 5 website forums are full of responses on both sides and a heated debate has started.
The two points one can take from this story both deal with hype. CPR has saved countless lives, but the choice of whether to use it or not is an important one. Second, the desire and draw to be a hero is massive in this culture.
Perhaps we all need to be a little more mild-mannered.