Sleeping beauty

I just took a class in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and now I know what I should've said twenty years ago. Around 1986 I was a manager in an office that had some supervisors and part-time employees. One day, one of the part-timers came to my room and said, "Uh, Bill, I think Angie fainted but I think she's faking it."


"She passed out and she's on the floor behind her desk but we think she's faking it so that Buddy will revive her."

(Angie the supervisor and Buddy the part-timer had had some kind of relationship but Buddy had broken it off.)

So a few of us went to Angie's desk and sure enough, she was on the floor, on her back, arms at her sides, face aimed at the ceiling, eyes closed. Not a hair out of place. I did the wrong thing, which was to try to make her laugh, and I failed. I don't remember exactly what I said, but since she appeared to just be breathing normally, I left and everyone else did too.

Now that I've taken the CPR class, I know to check for breathing and a pulse and then if needed, give the victim two breaths and begin chest compressions. The instructor told us that since the chest compressions are an attempt to keep blood flowing from the heart to the brain, they need to be forceful. That may mean breaking a rib, he said: "If I hear a rib snap, I know I'm pushing hard enough. Ribs can be fixed; brain damage can't."

Standing over Angie, I should've spoken to those assembled around her and explained what I was about to do, and that I might have to break a rib in order to save her life. The recovery would've occurred before I started, I suppose. In fact, she "came to" all by herself after I left, because although Buddy was in the office that day and available to "revive" her, he refused, and she heard about it.

Just as background, Buddy seemed to be about as charming as could be. Earlier during work that year, he had invited me to smoke pot in the alley behind the office, but I declined, it being my first full-time job and all.