Earlier this week I took a first aid/CPR course offered through the Red Cross, because, as I bizarrely and inadequately explained to the instructor in front of the entire class, “Zombies.” It’s clearly something I should have done a long time ago, as it turns out I was woefully uneducated about the basics. For instance, I would have sworn that hitting someone on the back was an outdated, wives-tale method of helping a choking victim — you know, sort of like slathering butter on a burn. Wrong! You’re supposed to hit them! (Well, technically you’re supposed to bend them forward, use the heel of your hand to deliver five forceful back-blows between the shoulder blades, then switch to five abdominal thrusts, but maybe you can also smack them around a little if you don’t like them very much.) I also learned that my first instinct when presented with a roll of gauze is to instantly drop it on the floor and make a weird Chewbacca moan when it unravels like toilet paper tracked out of a restroom, which doesn’t seem super helpful in terms of helping someone who’s geysering blood all over the place unless the victim is at least mildly entertained by my antics in their final moments.

The part of the class that made the biggest impact on me (aside maybe from when the instructor demonstrated how if someone has something awful protruding out of their eyeball you’re supposed to cover the other eye too so the mutilated eye isn’t tempted to move around and make the injury worse and the whole time he had a pair of scissors pointing at his eye and I was like AHHHH BE CAREFUL I’M NOT GOOD WITH GAUZE) was the CPR section, because I had no idea how hard it is. I knew about the chest compressions, but I had never actually practiced them before. A CPR manikin lets you get a sense of how much physical pressure it takes to push the required two inches deep and no shit, it’s straight-up exhausting, especially since you’re supposed to do 30 of them at a rate of 100 per minute before switching to the two rescue breaths, which is like stopping a high-intensity cardio workout in order to blow up a balloon. Oh, and the instructor informed us that in real life, the compressions would likely get easier as you go on account of the rib and sternum cartilage breaking (“You’ll hear it go!” he said, cheerily) and maybe some bones to boot, but you’re not supposed to worry about that since being dead probably sucks more than having a sore chest. We did several rounds of attempting to resuscitate our vaguely porny-looking plastic torsos and afterwards I gasped “Wow, this isn’t how it looks in the movies at ALL!” which … really, brain? The zombies thing wasn’t stupid enough?

Anyway, it was all obviously very useful stuff and if you haven’t refreshed your training lately I thought the Red Cross did a great job (the course I took was called Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED, but they also have an online version that’s CPR/AED only). I suppose this is the first class I’ve ever taken where I fervently hope I am never called upon to demonstrate anything I learned, including the trainer directive to avoid reassuring a victim of any outcome you can’t know. In other words, you’re not supposed to say “You’re going to be okay.” I don’t know, I think if someone was terrified I would tell them that. They probably wouldn’t believe me, what with my gauze-fumbling and nervous Walking Dead chatter (“I am virtually certain that you, like a certain main character portrayed two weeks ago, are totally going to survive this season, despite how things look at the moment!”) and all, but I’d say it.