Many years ago my wife and I were attending a small wedding rehearsal dinner at a popular local restaurant. The groom suddenly stopped eating, looked wide-eyed, and displayed all the symptoms of having his windpipe plugged. He couldn’t even breathe in to make a noise. A couple nearby people tried to assist him but with no result.
So I jumped up, shrugged my cape over my shoulder (the one with the S on it), took in an extra dose of adrenalin from my 200,000-year-old physiology, and performed a perfectly executed Heimlich Maneuver. The results were spectacular. The groom survived to get hitched the next day. But the whole affair put a bit of a damper on everyone’s dining experience — I mean everyone in the entire restaurant. Ever since then we have referred to that restaurant as Heimlich’s and have never gone back.
You can draw a few points from this story:
1. Never name a restaurant “Heimlich’s.”
2. There is a super hero within all of us.
3. First aid is transcending experience.
OK, now hang in here with me for a minute.
I just read this quote in a respected business publication referring to what works in wellness programs. “…our culture is really something where that ‘stick’ will work a little bit better, so we decided to do a [premium] surcharge if people decided not to participate.”
I am not going to name names here. I am sure the person who said this has a heart (that requires defrosting) somewhere inside and will come to rue the day this appeared in the media. And this is from one of those “Best Places to Work” award winners (which goes to show that filling out forms has become an advanced art form).
I got thinking about these two disjointed stories (my CPR experience and the premium surcharge comment), and it occurred to me that onsite first-aid training would be more of a true wellness activity than most stuff going on in the name of wellness today. Here are six reasons why I say that.
1. You attend a first-aid class so you’ll be prepared to help others in an emergency. The cause is bigger than you. That’s intrinsic motivation. That’s why you won’t have to incent anyone to participate.
2. You gain an understanding of valuable new information and immediately applicable skills, often working in a team format. The social connection is strong.
3. You have to study a little, and practice these skills to be proficient. That’s autonomy.
4. Often a local organization such as the Red Cross, American Heart Association (AHA) chapter, YMCA, or the fire department, etc., can come in and conduct the program. That’s community.
5. You end up with a certificate of proficiency in the techniques you’ve mastered. That’s recognition of accomplishment.
6. It doesn’t cost hardly anything. That’s cool.
Compare that with the “stick culture” mentioned above. Punishment is a pretty blunt tool. You can get compliance. But it’s often humiliating, negatively affects the most vulnerable among us, destroys intrinsic motivation, and repels people with other options.
OK, now hang in here for just one more segue.
The defense: “Objection, your Honor. Where is this going?”
Connors: “Your Honor, I plan to connect the dots now and show that healthy workplace cultures can be demonstrated inexpensively and quickly.”
Judge: I’ve got to hear this one, Mr. Connors. Make it quick or I’ll hold you in contempt. And put on a tie the next time you come into my court.
Connors: “Yes, Ma’am. Thank you, Your Honor.”
Put on a workplace conducted “hands-only CPR” class
See the AHA’s Two Steps to Staying Alive Program. The best practice now for CPR is chest compression only (like priming a pump). You do the 100 required compressions per minute to the beat of the song, Staying Alive. The science and best practice standards behind “compression only” are compelling. In addition, there is a new device called the CPR RsQ Assist®. The slogan is, “When Your Hand Needs A Hand®.” It’s an ingeniously simple device that is catching on with first responders all over the country. I heard about it from a friend who works with first responders.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Look into introducing the AHA’s hands only CPR techniques using the CPR RsQ Assist device. My wife and I are going to be carrying these in our automobiles.
Note: I have no financial interest in suggesting you purchase or use this device. I just like the thing.
2. Plan a small communication strategy to introduce the program. Video some of the program, and report on it in internal and community media using print and video. Everyone will have fun.
3. Note how popular and appreciative everyone is for having the program offered onsite. Report that data to management.
4. Plan your next first-aid event.
Summary: This simple onsite program will be a “blinding flash of the obvious” in what actually can help build healthy cultures, as opposed to programs that do just the opposite. I rest my case.
Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.