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Not too long ago I went to work and started my nightshift working 6:00 pm to 8:00 am. At about 6:30 we got a call to attend a residence in our response area for a VSA (Vital Signs Absent). We got to the residence and a 59-year-old male had collapsed on the floor of his garage, his daughter went to get him for dinner and found him lying on the floor. We attend numerous emergency calls like this on a regular basis but as soon as we got to this call, we knew it was different.

The male who had collapsed was a friend, a fellow firefighter Captain that we had all worked with and had just recently retired within the past few months.

Police and EMS were on scene and everyone worked feverishly to save his life. Police tried to calm down the daughter who was hysterical and gathered personal information from the patient’s wife. Everything at the call went perfectly as far as all the emergency protocols. Medics setup an IV, got a few rounds of epinephrine and CPR went flawlessly. We worked tirelessly at the scene for about 40 minutes before we transferred him to a gurney and continued to work on him in the back of the ambulance en route to the hospital. There was a trauma team at the hospital waiting for our arrival and we expedited him into the trauma room. The trauma team worked on him for about fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do, and he was pronounced dead. Even when everything goes right at a call, there are a lot of times you don’t get the outcome everyone is hoping and wishing for.

Our crew was emotionally devastated. Within minutes, the whole department knew about the incident and the entire shift became very solemn. It was emotional for everyone.

Going to calls like this on a regular basis is part of our profession and we never realize the impact that these incidents have on all the families and friends that are affected. When it’s somebody you know or are related to, it’s a totally different dynamic. Nothing changes on the call as far as emergency protocols, but everything just feels different.


As athletes and trainers, we all train hard and spend countless hours working hard trying to develop our skills to lift more weight, increase our squat, bench, deadlift, and compete in our desired sport to get a new PR, win a game, set a new record, or win a tournament.

We focus our energy and purpose on training, expecting that everything will go perfectly and we will never have to worry about any type of emergency or medical incident, especially if you train or work in a commercial gym environment.

What happens when something does go wrong?

If one of your training partners, friends, colleagues or clients collapsed in the gym, would you be able to help? Would you know what to do besides dial 911?  Would you watch helplessly while waiting for Emergency Services to arrive?

Trust me, when you’re waiting for help to arrive, it seems like an eternity and time essentially stands still. A minute feels like an hour. I would hope and pray that if something happened to anyone of my friends or family at work, at the gym or at a public facility, that somebody would be able to help and give them a chance to survive.

Don’t we owe it to our family and our friends to be prepared in case of an emergency or unfortunate incident or accident to be able to respond appropriately and efficiently to help?

RELATED: Purposeful Training for Emergency First Responders: Why Physical Preparation Matters

I believe everyone should be trained in the basics of First Aid and CPR. In most cases when a person suffers from a heart attack or goes VSA (Vital Signs Absent), immediate CPR is a huge factor in whether that patient will survive or not. If one of your friends or family begins choking and if an attempt to dislodge an airway obstruction doesn’t work, that person will soon go unconscious and you will have to resort to chest compressions (essentially CPR) to dislodge the obstruction and help that person breathe again.

A First Aid and CPR course is usually a weekend course that will help you learn how to check for a pulse, treat soft tissue injuries, splint a fractured limb, assist a conscious/unconscious choking adult or child, control bleeding, assist someone having difficulty breathing by utilizing techniques to open airways, administer oxygen, perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation on an infant, child or adult and use an (AED) Automatic External Defibrillator to revive someone who has had a cardiac episode.


You will notice that a lot of private and public facilities are now carrying Public AED’s in arenas, shopping malls and recreation centers because they have been proven to be instrumental with survival rates when implemented as quickly as possible after a cardiac incident.

I don’t know anyone who wold not benefit from having a set of skills as basic as First Aid and CPR to help someone in need. New parents, teachers, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers — believe me, emergency events do not discriminate against age, race, sex or religion. I think a lot of people utilize the mindset that “what are the chances of anything happening” instead of “if anything happens, I’m going to be prepared.”

If you’re a personal trainer training clients in an environment where there is any type of physical exertion, please be the trainer who is prepared and knows what to do in the event of any unsuspected emergency.

I work in the Emergency Services and have been to countless medical incidents where we’ve worked on patients who’ve suffered cardiac events. I’m certain that if more people knew CPR and were proactive in applying their CPR skills prior to Emergency Service arrival, more people would survive.  We owe it to our family, co-workers, training partners, clients and the general public to be capable of helping people in need when an unfortunate incident arises.

Don’t be the person using your cell phone to video somebody at an emergency scene; be the person who has been captured on somebody’s cell phone saving a life because you were prepared and knew what to do when nobody else did.

After reading this article, if I can convince only one reader to realize this is an important set of skills to have and they decide to get a certification, I will be a happy, old, beat-up powerlifter. 

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