Bankers: Will you save your customer's life?

By Karl Keller

Being bankers, we work with people of all ages, young and old. We meet with customers wherever and whenever it is most convenient for them. We may meet a customer in our branch, for lunch at a favorite restaurant, or even on the golf course.


What would you do if suddenly during your day a customer became gravely ill or experienced a heart attack or stroke? In my lifetime, I have been involved in such situations four different times. I will tell you about my latest experience in just a moment. However, what I have learned this week is that there are two types of people in the world. One type that will sit and observe an issue and one type that will jump in and help. Which type are you?


A situation like this is never pleasant. The chance of you being involved in a potential lifesaving incident in your branch is considerably high. Having been a life guard as my first job as well as having two sons in Boy Scouts, I am very aware that these situations can and do happen all the time.

What will you or your staff do if someone hits the floor with an attack? You have less than two minutes to take action. What will you do? Do you know which of your associates will jump to action? The decisions you make during this lifesaving two minutes will not only change your customer’s life, but it will change your life as well through memories of the situation for years to come.


This past weekend, I sat down for lunch at a local eatery with my wife and son. It was Sunday at noon and, as you might expect, every table was filled. I would estimate there were more than 75 people in the restaurant. We had just received our menus, when we noticed an older man slump over in his booth. His wife jumped up and looked panicked as she tried to assist him while at the same time she called out for assistance.

I have to admit I am not qualified in this area of human behavior. However after looking at the situation from all angles, I came to a conclusion that there are indeed two types of people. One type that will jump to help and another type that will simply watch and hope that someone else will assist. Out of the 75 people, there were only 3 people-- myself, my wife and a nurse--that got out of their booth to help. Sure, the restaurant management team was involved in that they did call 911 and quickly asked around the restaurant to see if anyone was a doctor. I guess I expected more people to help even if it was just to hold the door for the paramedics as they arrived. .


My question to you is this: if this situation were to happen in your branch location or to your customer, what would you do? Would you be watching from the sidelines? Would you be the one calling 911? Or would you be the one to jump in to start CPR? I am convinced that in this situation, our natural tendency is to hold back and watch. First, you are in shock that you are even in this situation. Unless you have training in CPR, first aid or have ever been in a past situation, you may not be sure what you should do. This is why I bring it up now. Figure out right now what you are going to do and have a plan for your branch or office location.


We quickly took the man out of the booth and got him on the floor. He was unresponsive. We cleared his mouth of food and quickly tried to determine whether or not to start CPR or if he was choking. I thank God that the nurse was in the restaurant and she immediately used her skills to take charge. She said two words. CPR NOW! She quickly gave 5-6 hard pumps on his chest. His eyes opened and he became somewhat responsive and could tell us his name. The nurse had saved another life. The paramedics arrived and took him away to the hospital. I believe he had a good chance to survive the incident. I know that had action not been taken quickly, this man would have died right here in the restaurant in front of 75 people eating lunch.


So, where am I going with this? The point is that no one asks to be put in this type of situation. It just happens. You work with people of all ages young and old. Be prepared by having a plan, learning CPR and visualizing what you personally will do if you are in this situation. Don’t watch, jump to attention! Folks who experience an illness in public are not a side show. They need our help, assistance, and compassion. Isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t that what banking is all about too? Helping people is what we do best.


To learn the latest life saving techniques, visit the American Red Cross web site and support your local Boy Scouts and Girl Scout organizations as they are teaching our children valuable skills that will last a lifetime.


American Red Cross