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copyright © 1999, 2000,2001   Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved

Survival and Balance, continued

         “April’s hurt,” she puffs, as she tries to regain her breath. The run had been strenuous on Mandy, who is not very athletic. She’s too worried to realize that Old Man McGill wouldn’t know who April is. Mr. McGill drops his shears and comes around the hedge. A worried look wrinkles the brow of his balding head.
           “What’s wrong?” Mr. McGill asks again. Mandy is bent over, holding both knees as she tries to recover her breath.
          “She’s hurt down there . . . Needs doctor,” Mandy huffs as she points with an outstretched arm. She is still hunched over.
          Mr. McGill straightens up. He too is hunched over so that he could hear Mandy. He flips open a cell phone he has in the breast pocket of his plaid shirt and calls 911. Mandy is vaguely aware of Mr. McGill requesting an ambulance. She’s shocked that he is using a cell phone. It never occurs to her that Old Man McGill would have modern technology. The neighborhood kids used to joke that McGill probably still used a crank telephone, like the type seen in old black & white movies.
          “Come on, let’s get down there,” Mr. McGill says. He gently lifts Mandy up by her shoulders and aims her in the general direction that she had pointed.
          Sandy’s frantic. She’s trying to remember her CPR. The dark glow slowly creeps around April’s shoulder joint and settles around the chest above her heart. April convulses twice. Sandy puts her ear to April’s chest and can’t hear a heartbeat. Sandy then tilts April’s head back, puts her ear close to April’s mouth, and listens. She hears no breathing. She desperately tries to remember; is it resuscitate first or try to restart the heart first? Sandy normally has a photographic memory but the stress of seeing April in serious danger is making it very hard for her to focus. Sandy decides on mouth to mouth resuscitation first and checks April’s air passage way for obstructions. Two quick puffs of air into April’s lungs and then Sandy attempts chest compressions. Time seems suspended.
          Around the bend races Mandy. She drops to her knees near April. Mr. McGill follows, but is pacing himself due to his age. When he arrives, he gently but with authority pushes Sandy out of the way and takes over CPR. It’s obvious from his technique that he’s highly skilled.


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