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How to save someone from Drowning

/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/272627_l_srgb_s_gl_627359.jpgA couple of months ago I was driving into work at SAP l and I was listening to Radio 4, which is a fantastic radio station run by the BBC here in the UK.  My timing was impeccable as I had started my 30 minute journey at the beginning of the Reith Lecture this year delivered by Dr. Atul Gawande.

The subject of the lecture was “How to save someone from drowning”.  and Dr Gawande described how, a 3 year old girl, had fallen into a lake in Austria and had been unconscious, not breathing and without any vital signs for around 2 hours.  At which point she was eventually airlifted to hospital.  All I could think was, what is this guy talking about, you cannot save someone in this situation, how is this story going to have a happy ending?

Dr Gawande, then went on to literally blow my mind!   It turns out that they gradually, very slowly began to reheat the little girl’s body and one by one all her organs,  over a period of days and weeks, began to function.  I won’t ruin it for you by going over every detail – you must listen to the replay.

During the treatment, and saving the life of this little girl, the medical team of around 60 people, discovered some really basic processes and checks they were able to put in place, to save the next child quicker and more efficiently.  One of the key parts of the process was getting the hospital receptionist to do a rapid call-out to all members of the team to deploy them at exactly the right time to save the child quicker and in fact, the next child they saved was sitting up in bed 2 days later.

The contrast between what doctors like Dr Gawande do and what most of us do on a day to day basis is huge. However what I took from this was, Each member of the team is important and, while we cannot all perform medical miracles, we can all be diligent and be part of the team, and that can lead to great and unbelievable achievements

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