I once heard of a woman whose husband collapsed after suffering a heart attack at a cocktail party in one of the more affluent suburbs of Cape Town. She was in the toilet at the time, probably shnarfing, and came out to find a ravishing blonde straddling her husband with her mouth clamped firmly to his. She removed one of her stilettos and plunged the heel into the back of the woman’s neck, severing her spinal column and leaving her a paraplegic for the rest of her life. Her husband died where he fell.
This is why it is called “artificial” respiration – to prevent people from getting jealous when they see what looks like another man or woman kissing their supine loved one.
Making sure someone is dead before trying to resuscitate them avoids wasting time that could be better spent with your mates in the bar. You need to actively search for signs of death. Don’t simply kick them in the ribs to see if there is any response. And just because someone has dilated pupils, blue lips, glazed eyes and his mouth is hanging open doesn’t necessarily mean he is dead. He might be a civil servant having a little lie-down during his lunch break. If you suspect the person is dead, the following could help to confirm your diagnosis:
- Bullet hole in forehead
- Knife protruding from chest
- Head detached from body
- Maggots in mouth
- Brains on floor
- Skeleton exposed
- Body hanging from ceiling
- Suicide note
Once you have confirmed that the person is deceased, you must notify the emergency services. The police will arrive at the scene within five minutes or five days, depending on which area you are in. Before they arrive, wipe your fingerprints off anything you may have touched. The police will be hoping to make a speedy arrest and get back to the station before the duty officer finishes the brandy. Often they simply arrest the person nearest to the body.
A lot of people fall down in South Africa for many different reasons. It doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with them. The first thing you need to do when coming across someone lying on the ground is to ascertain whether they are resting or dying. If the person is not breathing, it is your moral duty to attempt to revive them. It is not your moral duty to remove their jewellery and quickly walk away. Stealing from the dead is a crime against something extraordinarily powerful. Look what happened to Lord Carnarvon and his grave-robbing cohorts after they opened King Tutankhamen’s tomb and made off with all the silver in 1923. That was some nasty curse.
There are a number of medically acceptable methods you can use to verify whether someone is still alive. First, check if there is a pulse. This can be done by lightly resting two fingers on his wrist or neck. If the person is a particularly attractive woman, you may check for a pulse by removing her bra and cupping one of her breasts in your hand. This will also ascertain whether or not she is faking.
If there is no sign of a heartbeat, there is no time to waste. Remove your jacket and roll up your sleeves. If you are on your way to work and you have a packed lunch, grab a quick bite to eat. It will give you the energy you need to bring this person back to life.
When you have finished eating, poke a stick down their throat to check that their air passage is not blocked. If there are no sticks lying about, go back to your car and fetch the dipstick from your engine. The oil will help it slide down the trachea.
If they are lying in the street, drag their body to the edge of the pavement and hang their head backwards into the gutter. That should open up their air pipe good and proper.
Next, block their nose, cover their mouth with yours and blow as hard as you can. Try not to get aroused. You want to feel their lungs inflating like footballs. While you are blowing, hammer on their chest with your fist. After two minutes of punching and blowing, stop for a break. There is no point in giving yourself a heart attack. During your break, slap them around the head and shout, “Live, damn you! Live!” This won’t do much for the victim but it does make it a lot more exciting for the crowd that has gathered.
If you are successful, you will notice the person beginning to breathe on their own. Ask someone to call the media. There is no point in saving someone’s life if only a handful of people know about it. If the person tries to get up before a journalist arrives, makes sure they bump their head against the pavement and knock themselves out.
If your efforts are unsuccessful and the person dies, get someone to take a photograph of you with your foot on their chest. Later, you can tell your friends that you killed a mugger with your bare hands. Alive or dead, either way you look like a hero.