To the rescue: First aid at the Y


One of the great things about the Vineyard (one of the many) is the sense of community we share. Sounds very Mayberry, I know. But what do we have if we don’t help one another in times of difficulty — especially when it comes to our health?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to not only have broken the bonds of living in the New York/New Jersey area — where the sense of community is quite, um, different from here. But I, along with my wife and daughter, have found soulful and satisfying work at the hub of all things community-oriented: the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard.

Not to sound like a podium pounder for the Y, but its collective mission is to empower our Island community to invest in ourselves — mind, body, and spirit. Apart from staving off medical bills and a generally poor attitude, getting healthy, BEING healthy, and helping others to do the same is just what we do. Not just those of us who are associated with the Y, but Islanders in general.

Which brings me to the reason for the spiel.

The Y — in association with the Martha’s Vineyard Association of Emergency Medical Technicians — is holding a series of Specialty First Aid Clinics. Before I explain what the deal is, a short history:

A few years back I became certified through the American Red Cross to teach Lay Responder CPR/AED/First Aid. It’s a position I truly enjoy. However, after a while, I didn’t feel I knew enough to adequately teach the way I wanted to teach. So I decided to take an EMT course (which I’m in the middle of, and it’s simultaneously daunting and wonderful).

Then it hit me: What if we held Specialty First Aid Clinics to help us to be helpful in times of medical distress? Because we’ve all been in positions where someone has been having a problem — bleeding, chest pain, a fall, etc., — and you want to help, but you’re not confident you know what to do (and what NOT to do). So I hit up several paramedics and EMTs on the Island to be my brain trust and facilitators of these clinics.

Our first clinic focused on Controlling Bleeding and Hemorrhaging. Our next one — which concentrates on Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke, will be held on Saturday, April 11, from 10 to 11:30 am.

Think about those times when you wish you could’ve leaped into action to become that first link in the chain of survival. Imagine, because of the knowledge you’ve gained at a clinic like this one (not to mention your calm and confident demeanor), being able to help someone to continue living. Getting involved for all the right reasons differentiates our Island community from so many in America that choose to look the other way.

To get plainspoken instruction from professional first responders with a passion for educating and empowering the public is truly a gift to our community. If you’re a parent, if you work in the transportation industry, or hospitality — anyone really — fortifying your knowledge and your confidence when it comes to the basics of first aid is testament to your care and compassion.

Truthfully, I don’t know of any other specialty first aid clinics. It made sense for me to initiate, having been on the receiving end of the care and compassion of EMTs and paramedics, both on and off-duty.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke, Saturday, April 11, 10 am to 11:30 am. Call 508-696-7171 to register, or stop by the front desk at the Y. $10 for Y members, $15 for nonmembers;