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Saving a life is all in a day’s work for DSPs

Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who serve people with developmental disabilities are many things. They are good cooks. Just ask anyone in any of the homes of Choices In Community Living and Resident Home and good cooking is at the top of everyone’s list of what is important. They have the kind of gentle persuasion that gets everyone in a home up and ready for work or activities. They are counselors when someone is having a bad day and referees to stop small differences from turning into something big. They make sure a home is running smoothly, that medications are on schedule, that there are activities in the home and in the community. And at any given moment they are ready to become something else – lifesavers.

Such a moment came recently for Choices’ team members Felicia Merchant and Sarah Babcock (Madison County.) One of the gentlemen they serve has a history of seizures. On one hot June day he was sitting on the couch in his home watching television. He got up from the couch, took a few steps, dropped to his knees and fell forward on his face. Something similar had happened to him before but this time was different.

Felicia and Sarah noticed that his nose was bleeding and he was ‘jerking’ while on the floor. They helped him up to the couch. He let out a very loud scream and began to have a seizure, then fell to sleep. He snored one time and quit. Felicia noticed him turning pale and asked Sarah to check and see if he was breathing. She checked his pulse and looked to see if his chest was rising and falling. They could not find a pulse and his chest was not rising.

Taking immediate action, the two DSPs lowered him to the floor. Sarah began CPR and chest compressions while Felicia called the emergency squad and her supervisor. As a result of their actions, he finally coughed and blood was coming out of his mouth and nose. They rolled him on his side and cleared away as much blood as they could until the emergency squad arrived. He was taken to the hospital where it was determined that in the fall he had broken his nose in several places.

He was given medication and a referral to see a specialist. He is back home and back to work and once again enjoying quiet time on his couch watching his favorite television shows. Felicia and Sarah, cool-headed, quick-thinking, fast responding Felicia and Sarah, remain right there by his side. Without panic and calling on their training, they saved his life on that hot day in June. It was all in a day’s work, as it is for every DSP, but what meaningful and empowering work it is.

Every day working alongside the people we serve calls on us all to give what Sarah and Felicia gave on that day – to give our very best. There isn’t a moment when we don’t change lives. Sometimes there are even moments when we save lives!