It was a Friday evening, after a hard day of work. I was dwelling on some unresolved issues that I brought home from the office, and wasn’t in a particularly jovial mood. Still, it was Friday after all, our pizza and movie night. The red wine was poured and the medium pizza was plated. I was sitting with my favorite person by my side, with my favorite dog at my feet; the night was bound to get better.
Having opted for an old episode of Glee over dinner, before codifying our movie choice, we began to tuck in to the meal, accompanied by an acapella rendition of Teenage Dream. This is when the evening took an unusual turn. I’m not a singer, and I couldn’t hit a Katy Perry note if I wanted to, but somewhere between “You’ll be my valentine” and “No regrets, Just love” I apparently inhaled when I should have continued chewing. At first I registered that there was a problem; probably best solved with a good cough or perhaps a drink of water…and then I gasped for air and that pizza that I had so looked forward to eating instead stuck like a cork in my throat. It began to dawn on me that I was choking. My wife, noticing that I had become a lovely shade of purple, anxiously asked me what was wrong, to which I replied with the universal sign for choking, pointing at my throat while whilst emitting a decidedly un-Katy Perry-like wheeze.
As far as I can tell, once Kyra knew that there was a problem, she never hesitated; she took action and performed the Heimlich Maneuver. It took three tries (and a very frightened doggy) but she was finally able to dislodge the food and I was finally able to breathe. I am, and will forever be, grateful that my wife, having taken ITMI’s recommendations, learned first aid, CPR, and especially the Heimlich Maneuver.
This wasn’t the first time that my personal tour guide was a hero. She once saved her mother in the same way she saved me. She has applied first aid to guests who have fallen while hiking; she’s tended to abrasions, sprains and sick children. Last season one of her co-workers assisted a guest who had taken a bad fall while hiking in the woods, and other guides world-wide have had similar, and at times more dramatic experiences, in which their training kicked in and enabled them to render assistance, and perhaps save a life. While these instances are rare, there is always the possibility that knowledge of first aid, CPR or the Heimlich would be vitally important while leading a tour.
As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of ITMI. The people are wonderful, and their training is top notch. However, I never expected to say that I owe them my life. There are a lot of heroes out there. If you are already running tours, or if you’re thinking about taking up that mantle, I encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunities and advice provided by the folks at ITMI. A life could depend on it. Mine did.
So I Married a Tour Guide. I’m glad she’s not a widow.
For a refresher on the Heimlich Maneuver, click on the image below for a brief You Tube video...and save a life!