Justin - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on January 9, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that if you see someone suffering or in need, it is your responsiblilty and moral duty to help him or her. Fulfilling this duty isn’t always easy, but no matter how difficult or taxing it is to help another, you always feel better and more empowered after help is administered, and the person that you helped will feel better and be in a much better place than they were in before. I personally have had many encounters where my time and effort was required to help someone. Be it as small a gesture as trying to cheer up a friend or attempting to put their mind at ease, to as large a one as helping to save someone’s life who was in dire medical trouble.

Over this past summer, some friends from Scouts and I were hiking up at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. We had just finished hiking the last two miles at a 30 percent grade, up the side of a mountain. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means we climbed 2000 feet in elevation for every mile we hiked. We had just finished our ascent and were making our way down the opposite side of the mountain when, after a few switch-backs, (bends in the trail that double-back on themselves) we began to hear the sound of someone hyperventilating or choking. We hiked onward a little longer to see what was going on when we came across a boy who was about sixteen or seventeen years old lying in the middle of the trail with two adults standing next to him trying to give him an inhaler. We found that he was having a massive asthma attack, brought on by the altitude, and normally the inhaler might have alleviated some of the danger and problems of the boy, but at this point the boy was so bad off that he couldn’t even breathe in the inhaler.

According to the adults, one of which was his mother, he had been in this state for well over an hour and they had sent a couple of the boy’s friends to run to the nearest staffed campsite to get a ranger for help. Unfortunately though, the nearest staffed campsite was over four miles away. To help the boy, we made a stretcher out of rope and logs and carried the boy partway down the mountain until we came across a couple of rangers on horseback who had apparently gotten the message for help. We quickly sat the boy down and let the rangers try to help. They carried with them a small bag of medical equipment and, from that bag, drew out an Epi-pen and stuck in into the boy’s arm in an attempt to relax him. At this point, he broke out into random fits of seizing and dry heaving while clutching his chest. These fits were followed by quiet periods where, on a few occasions, he stopped breathing and we thought that we were going to lose him, but he always came to right as we were about to administer CPR.

After what seemed like an eternity, the boy eventually stabilized and soon after, was joined by couple of paramedic rangers. The rangers then administered a breathing treatment to the boy and further stabilized him enough to take him to the staffed camp on horseback, where he could get to a car and drive to the nearest hospital. We later found out that he had survived and made a full recovery.

This experience solidified and strengthened an already present moral I believed in. It also changed my outlook on life by showing me that life is truly flimsy and weak, but can be strengthened and saved by someone else who desires to help, even if it seems trivial. Many of you won’t have quite as extreme an experience as I did but the principle stands true for even the pettiest of acts. If you see someone suffering and in need, and you are able to give them even slight aid, please do so without hesitation, for it may be you who needs help next time.