Are You Prepared to Help Someone in an Emergency?

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
July 15, 2016

In the wake of an incident reported a few days ago of a person choking in a local restaurant, McPherson County 911 issued a plea to local citizens to prepare for the possibility that they, too, might one day be in a position to help someone in an emergency.

“We have a great community here, and we know that everybody wants to help,” said Jill Brunsell, Communications Superintendent for McPherson County 911.

“But one of the problems that we see that happens when people are in this crisis situation is they fight, they fly, or they freeze,” Brunsell explained. “And one of the ways to get around that unfreezing is to visualize, ‘What would I do if the person in the booth next to me started choking? What would I do if I was at the Waterpark and I saw a child drowning? What would I do if I saw this massive car accident right in front of me?’”

Brunsell says simply unfreezing and calling for help goes a long way in possibly making make a big difference in the overall outcome.

“At McPherson County 911, we’re very good. We have all these instructions written out right in front of us and it’s very simplified. It’s step-by-step, and we can help you with whatever you need to do until EMS or [the fire department] is on scene.”

Brunsell went on to say that one of the reasons people are hesitant to help or to get trained in CPR is the fear of doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“What a lot of people don’t know is we’re actually kind of getting away from the mouth-to-mouth and going to more of a compressions-only pathway,” she said. “There has been research done that shows that just doing compressions can help the outcome of the patient. And there’s actually a few studies that show that compressions-only is actually more beneficial than compressions combined with mouth-to-mouth.

“So that’s something that I would like people to know, is don’t be afraid to take a CPR class because you don’t want to do that mouth-to-mouth.”

Another reason people hesitate to help someone in an emergency is the fear of getting sued. But Brunsell says there’s help for that, too.

“There is actually something called a Good Samaritan Law and it helps protect those people who are willing to help. If you are certified in CPR and you do perform CPR on somebody, you’re protected by this law.”

Being certified is one thing, but just thinking you can do it is another, as Brunsell explained.

“Now, if you were watching TV last week and saw them do this on TV and you’re pretty sure you can do it, that’s not the same thing.”

However, being on the phone with someone trained in giving CPR instruction carries the Good Samaritan Law protection over to the caller.

“If you’re there to help somebody, and you’re on the phone with 911, and we’re helping you help them, you’re protected by this law.

“It’s an awesome community,” Brunsell continued. “In McPherson, we have a tremendous amount of respect for law enforcement and EMS and [the fire department] and I think that’s great. But the more people that we can get to have those basic skills, the better.”

Local CPR classes are available through the Hutchinson Community College. For more information, contact the McPherson Center at 620-245-0202.

The Moundridge EMS also teaches CPR. They can be reached at 620-345-3657.

Tim Bruton is a certified instructor through Hutchinson Community College and is a part-time employee of McPherson EMS. Feel free to contact him at [email protected]

For more information on the Good Samaritan Law, check out these websites: