When it came time to use that CPR training Dwayne Kelly, scoutmaster of Boy Scouts of America Troop 218 in Kingsland, was required to take, he remembered a lot more of it than he expected.
“You think you’ll freeze, but it comes back to you just like it was the day before,” Kelly said.
He’s got more experience with CPR than most. Kelly’s son was born premature, and his lungs were underdeveloped. Learning to do CPR on infants wasn’t easy, he said, but it laid the groundwork.
The particulars of CPR were further hammered into his head when his son entered the Cub Scout program.
“My son, he actually started as a tiger (in Cub Scouts). I didn’t do much starting out, but I got more into it. I became a den leader,” Kelly said. “At our troop, at First United Methodist Church, we had the past scoutmaster, and then we had a fill-in for a while. Then I took over.
“I started when he was in first grade, and he’s a junior now. It’s been a long time.”
Certifications in CPR and AED use are required for scouting leaders. Kelley continued to take the courses regularly, not really thinking he’d ever need it until he did.
“I work in Jacksonville. That day, a lady ran over to the shop from across the street and said her husband died. So me and two fellas I work with ran outside with me,” Kelly said. “The part of town I work in is not upstanding. A lot of crime. And he had overdosed on heroin.”
All that practice he’d done kicked in then. Kelly got to work on doing CPR while one of his coworkers check the man’s breathing and the other called an ambulance.
It wasn’t long before he needed a break, but the situation didn’t offer him one. He was about to give up when a higher power told him otherwise.
“I’m asthmatic, and I was in a bad way. I went out to get some fresh air, and my buddy called back and said he wasn’t breathing,” Kelly said. “I went out and said I wasn’t doing this. But that God fella said ‘Yes you are.’”
He wasn’t too keen on going into the building the man was in, and he wasn’t too keen on helping a man who had just overdosed, but he said God told him that it was something he had to do.
“You don’t notice it at first, but it was a bad place,” Kelly said. “When the paramedics got there, I looked around and saw needles everywhere. I’m glad the paramedics got there because that put me out of my comfort zone. It seemed like forever before (the ambulance) got there, but this happened in about 10 or 15 minutes.”
Kelly said he really wanted to leave, but couldn’t. Looking back, he’s glad for the intervention.
“We’re all God’s children. He just made a bad choice. All we can do is hope he straightened up,” Kelly said. “We didn’t make no big deal about it. It’s just the thing you do. You should help another human being.
“The good thing is, I know he’s still alive because we saw them last week. I hope he’s getting better.”
Kelly’s advice? Learn a lifesaving skill, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
“It’s the kind of thing you may never have to do, but when you end up doing it, you want to know how,” Kelly said. “When you’re a leader you have to get certified. You have to do it every few years. You think, ‘You won’t remember this,’ but when the time comes, I’m living proof that you will remember.”
Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Taylor Cooper at email@example.com or at 912-265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.