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Life Saving Lessons Can Apply to Law

My son, also named Brewster, is an arborist. He thinks being 70 feet in the air with a chainsaw is fun - a proclivity he did not inherit from his father. This week he got asked to help out a tree company he had never worked with before.

At the job site, there was an accident. A worker's arm received a severe blow from a crane boom. The bone in the upper arm was crushed and there was arterial bleeding. Brewster not only had a trauma kit in his truck, but he knew how to use it. He quickly applied a tourniquet to the man's arm and got gauze into the wound. When the EMT's arrived over 10 minutes after being called, they told him that he had probably saved the guy's life.

My purpose is not just to brag on my son, although I am very proud of him. Brewster had intentionally learned first aid skills. His line of work is a dangerous one so that was a smart move. Like a good Boy Scout (and he is an Eagle Scout), he was prepared.

Having necessary skills is, of course, important. What is just as important, however, is having the presence of mind to use those skills when it matters. My son knew how to recognize arterial bleeding. He knew about tourniquets, but his education was relatively informal. He had had no hands on experience or formal training with something this serious.

Confronted with a real injury in real time, many of us might have frozen or hesitated. Even panicked. Brewster didn't.

There are several important lessons here for all of us, even lawyers:

  • Be prepared. Learn necessary skills.

  • Recognize situations that require immediate action.

  • Take immediate action. You might only have a moment to act.

  • Stay calm and be deliberate

  • Never panic

Never panic deserves emphasis. Nothing good ever comes from panic.

Thinking about what trial lawyers do, consider those moments in a trial when everything hits the fan. It happens. The mark of a good lawyer is the one who keeps his or her wits when everything is crashing. If you cannot do that, you might be in the wrong business.

And the injured man? He was rushed to surgery at the hospital. While he will have some permanent injuries to his arm, he will be out of the hospital and home with his family in a few days. This story could have had a much sadder ending.


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