I received an email from a true rescuer who attempted to revive their neighbor by administering CPR. The neighbor did not survive and now the rescuer is feeling as though the may not have done enough to help. This is a very normal feeling for many rescuers. I’d like to share my thoughts and I hope it helps bring closure, confidence and peace.
THE FOLLOWING IS MY RESPONSE:
It sounds like you’ve had a rough couple of days. First, because a neighbor and potentially their friends and family members are experiencing a living nightmare right now and secondly, because you may be feeling like you did not do enough, or do it well enough.
These feelings are very normal and not because you did anything wrong. It’s just normal to feel sad that the situation did not turn out the way we would have wanted it to. The fact that you did any CPR at all means that you gave this gentleman a chance at survival. Please remember, CPR is not designed to save lives directly. It’s purpose is to slow the process of moving from clinical death to biological death down a little in order to possibly intervene with advanced life support and buy more time to get the person to the hospital. CPR can sometimes help the body respond to the medications and electrical therapy but it does not take away the reason the person went into cardiac arrest in the first place in most cases. There can be so many reasons why a patient goes into cardiac arrest and why the seemingly don’t respond. It’s important to remember that your neighbor was already clinically dead when you arrived by their side. You gave them and their family members a wonderful gift. You moved out of your comfort zone and gave this person a second chance at survival. Something they wouldn’t have had if you wouldn’t have tried. The fact that your neighbor did not survive cardiac arrest does not take anything away from your efforts and your compassion.
You acted bravely and selflessly. That is not the norm in our culture. You are the exception and I say well done! Please, be at peace knowing that the most experienced and effective rescuers don’t always achieve the outcome that others wish would happen. True rescuers try their best to make a possibility for a tomorrow, regardless of the outcome and make the world a more loving place and show the world compassion by doing so.
Be at peace knowing that you did a wonderful act of love and compassion.