Monday, July 7, 2008


Some of you might know that my life is a search for heroes. Here's one.

Dennis is a single guy who came on our eight-day Grand Canyon trip all by himself. In the original group of twenty-eight, only he and one other person came alone. That's gutsy.

He loved sitting in the front of the boat (First Chair) and absorbing the pounding waves that crashed over the boat in the rapids. We all huddled behind him as he blocked much of the cold, wet sheets of water that swept into the boat during those times.

He's a police dispatcher. He's also what I call an actor, and not a reactor. When bad things happen and something needs to be done, he materializes at the crisis point and helps out in a quiet, non-insistent way. He doesn't stand around on the sidelines wringing his hands when things go south in a hurry, wondering what to do. (Right: Dennis in the front of the boat, taking another one for the team.)

When one of our group went into extreme duress on the fourth day with apparent heart failure (tragically, she died), the guides and a few others did CPR on her for a long time. It was her only chance. We were at the bottom of the Grand Canyon working on a non-responsive person, and we were going to be at it until outside help arrived. (Miraculously, it did in about 50 minutes.) We were going to need to take turns spelling each other.

Dennis came to the working group quickly, and calmly offered his help. He succinctly told us what he was capable of. He knew CPR. (Do you?) We slid him onto chest compressions when I grew tired.

He worked doing that for a long time, performing it steadily and correctly. It's exhausting work if it goes on for an extended period. He was a godsend. When he became fatigued, he informed us and he was relieved. He then stood by, ready to go back in when necessary. That's the way it's supposed to go.

Dennis is a hero in my book.


Anne said...

I wish we all encountered more Dennises in our lifetime. And I agree: CPR is exhausting even for several minutes. It must have been quite the team effort to keep it up for almost an hour.

ShirleyPerly said...

Great to have a guy like that around. I'm sure administering CPR for a while is very exhausting. I've gotten tired just doing it to get recertified :-P

akshaye said...

I am glad he was around. Its extremely exhausting and having multiple people who can do it always helps.

Don said...

The best kind of hero, one isn't a public figure, just an unassuming person who knows what to do and DOES it.

Sunshine said...

Being a hero while looking for them: good!

Jade Lady said...

What a guy - an unsung hero for the group.

Never done CPR - though I should learn!

Dori said...

I'm with Sunshine--you're a hero, too!

Petraruns said...

What a reminder. Thanks for pointing it out. So sorry to hear about this lady though - well done for you all for doing what you could. ANd I'm going to refresh my CPR..