Learn to be a first responder | PostIndependent.com

Learn to be a first responder

Ross L. Talbott
Out on a Limb
Ross Talbott
Staff Photo |

I was a “first responder.”

All the years I spent with the volunteer fire department fighting fires, dragging rafters out of the river, trying to prevent disasters and working to deal with vehicle accidents, I considered myself a “first responder.”

Police officers and sheriff’s department personnel also consider themselves to come under this designation.

You’ve seen the cartoons where one of the characters has a light bulb lit up over his head indicating an illumination of understanding.

Flashes of insight seem to be rare on today’s political scene.

I did, however, have one when I realized that we firemen were not first responders.

We were and they still are in reality, second responders.

Here is an example. Suppose you smell smoke and rush into the kitchen to find a fire on the stove. You grab an extinguisher and put the fire out.

You were an effective first responder.

Now suppose you fail to put it out. That’s when you call for backup, and they are the second responders.

Consider another scenario. You are awakened in the night hearing someone kicking in your back door.

If you are a good first responder you grab your constitutionally rightful firearm and hold the intruder until the second responders can arrive.

There are numerous examples I could cite.

The car ahead of you hits a deer, skids out of control and rolls a couple of times.

If you are a good first responder, you turn on your emergency flashers and get someone to help control traffic.

You call for emergency responders (thank God for cell phones) and then rush to the accident.

Hopefully you have first aid skills and can apply them effectively.

As a competent first responder you manage the scene until the second responders arrive.

Recently I saw on TV a man catching a young child who fell from a multistory building.

Fortunately he didn’t just step back and call the fire department.

Don’t misunderstand me. The police and fire departments are really good, capable and necessary.

The problem is that they are usually 10 minutes or more away, and a lot can happen before they arrive.

You and I who happen to witness a problem are the first responders.

Life and death often hang in the balance in those few minutes.

I fished a young boy out from under the water in the Glenwood Hot Springs pool and turned him over to the lifeguard.

He was resuscitated. But what if I had just swum on by?

Another time I was at Barron Lake on Grand Mesa when I heard a faint cry.

I discovered a young lady up to her armpits in the mud at the edge of the lake.

A couple of neighbors and I got a long rope and pulled her out.

Professional help was probably 30 minutes away out of Cedaredge even if our cell phones had a signal.

Once it dawns on us that we are the first responders and realize that we need to be equipped and have some training, we can save lives and property.

A tourniquet, a fire extinguisher, CPR or a properly applied weapon can save lives while you are waiting for the second responders.

There are many examples of incidents the severity of which could have been greatly reduced if there had been a properly equipped first responder.

In the Aurora Theater there was no first responder.

Keep in mind a couple of things.

Being a first responder often carries a high risk.

At other times the situation may require skills or equipment you don’t have.

Nevertheless, get some CPR training, keep a fire extinguisher handy, get weapons training and do whatever else you can to be prepared.

It’s better to be a tourniquet than a heart donor.

“Out On A Limb” appears on the first Tuesday of the month. Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle, where he is a business owner.


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