Another day, another real estate agent student collapses in the classroom

I’ve only faced three serious emergencies while teaching continuing ed classes over the past 16 years. The first one was 11 years ago when my water broke six weeks early with my second pregnancy while teaching at Windermere Edmonds. I wasn’t having contractions so I finished the class and drove up the hill to the hospital. The second emergency was during the Feb 28, 2001 earthquake. I was teaching in Bellevue that morning. Please realize folks that most adults in the Seattle area didn’t go through earthquake drills when we were kids. NOW the kids do, but all the Realtors insisted on running outside with the exception of the Realtors who had moved up here from California.

On Wed, while teaching a very involved Short Sale class in Seattle, a student yelled “Something’s wrong here.” Heck, I thought he was talking about the content of what I had just said, but then he pointed to the Realtor next to him. She had been eating so my first inclination was to make sure she wasn’t choking.

I am amazed at how the mind stores memories. In the Nov 2007 issue of National Geographic, there’s an excellent article on memory. I learned that one way memories make it into the long-term area of the brain is when the memory has strong emotions attached to it. I just found my First Aid teacher from 1992 and sent him an email to let him know that the way he delivered his material must have stayed with me because I was able to help.

I noticed that she wasn’t grabbing her throat and that she had become stiff and rigid in her chair. The Realtor next to her said that her eyes had rolled back. Then I knew she was having a seizure. I remembered that the teacher told us that if someone was having a seizure, he might injure himself further by falling off a chair. I said we should get her on the ground but others didn’t agree. I also remember my teacher telling us that in an emergency, we all want to help but someone has to take control so I YELLED to get her onto the ground. Then I remembered about the head, you have to protect the head and sure enough, her head was jerking up and down. I held her head, her mother (another Realtor in the classroom) held her hand and as she continued to seize. It seemed like forever for the paramedics to arrive but I’m sure it was only 5 minutes.

The parameds asked us to leave the room so they could attend to her.

What’s a teacher to do? All our class materials were in the room. Well of course we left the room. I told everyone that we were going to take a nice long break and that in a half hour we’d reconvene. Our student was going to be okay, they took her to the hospital and the broker, who was a student as well that day, asked me how I was going to bring us all back together.

firstaidI decided to take some time to talk about safety and first aid and we talked about what the office could do as a team to make sure that there was always one staff member with an updated first aid card on duty. I compressed the material and we finished on time. On reflection, I plan on updating my own first aid card this summer. Maybe I can take the class from that same teacher.

I think I know why I retained so much from that first aid class. Our final exam was a surprise. We all thought we were going to be given a traditional paper exam. Instead, when we showed up for class that day, he had a mock emergency staged in the college parking lot. The pretend victims were graduate volunteers all pretending to have had something happen to them. Some were pretending to be unconscious. Our job was to assess, tend to emergencies like airway, breathing and circulation problems and mobilize any broken bones. Other graduates were observing our every move and grading us. I will never forget that final exam. It was awesome.

I will also never forget how the agents at that office did everything they could to help their fellow Realtor through her crisis.

The first Realtor to notice that something was wrong looked to me for help. As an instructor, perhaps first aid training should be mandatory. In addition, what about basic first aid training for all of us? Realtors, would you be prepared if one of your clients had a heart attack during a showing?