The Day I Saved the Governator

The following piece of fiction was written as an assignment in a De Anza College (Cupertino, California) Red Cross cardiopulmonary resuscitation class.

First, an explanation from the instructor:

In some of my CPR and First Aid classes I have asked students who want an ‘A’ grade to do a writing assignment using the vocabulary and skills they learned. It can reinforce their learning on a different level than listening to me talk, watching videos and practicing the skills.

This student (who also happened to be on the faculty) not only included all the required vocabulary, he included the titles of all the movies Arnold Schwarzenegger had made at that time. He noted “some literary license was taken.”

The Day I Saved the Governator

By Jim Haynes

On the 6th day of May last spring, I was in Sacramento for the annual Community College Lobby Day. The day was spent listening to political speeches and visiting our local representatives trying to foster more support and more money for California’s community colleges. I was spending the night in town because I had to attend meetings the next day so I was in no hurry to leave the Capitol building. My last appointment with Junior-Senator Rebecca Cohn ended at 7:00 pm and I couldn’t stay hungry much longer. I had a so-so dinner kept warm under the red heat of an infrared lamp in the basement cafeteria. I got so wrapped up in the meal and in reading the day’s materials spread before me, I lost track of time. Before I knew it, it was 10:00 pm and the cafeteria was closing. I had a three-city-block walk back to the hotel, so I decided to stop in the restroom before I left the Capitol. It was rather strange to see no one in the building at that time of night. The halls were empty except for a lone security guard locking the doors to the Governor’s Office about 200 feet away from the bathroom entrance. I recognized him from earlier in the day when he was escorting a group of 5-year-old school kids around the rotunda. He looked to be about 70 years old and wasn’t moving all that fast.

As I entered the bathroom I could not believe my eyes. There, bigger than life, with an unlit cigar butt hanging from his mouth and standing at one of the two urinals was the Governator himself – Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was very well built and it was obvious he was in good shape. Arnold was definitely no girly man; in fact, he looked like Hercules’s twin. Still, I couldn’t help wonder what collateral damage had been done to his body after all those years of pumping iron, smoking Cubans, and taking steroids. It was one of the true lies of youth that you could go through life acting like some macho commando with no long-term consequences.

What an opportunity. There I was, just Arnold, and me all alone. I had a private (captive) audience with the Governor of California. I could really tell him about De Anza College and the good work we do and that we are more than worthy of his support. But as I moved closer I noticed that the former 7-time Mr. Olympia didn’t look so well. He was sweating from his forehead, his face was kind of pale, and his lips had a bluish tinge. I introduced myself and asked Arnold if he was feeling OK. He said he had had a long day and that he was feeling weak and having a little trouble catching his breath.

Then, just as he stepped back from the urinal, Arnold fell to the floor. I was stunned for a second and felt panic begin to build up in my stomach. I thought if I didn’t do something soon it could be the end of days for one of Hollywood’s last action heroes and that would have been a raw deal for Arnold and all his Republican friends. I suddenly had total recall of my CPR/AED training as Check – Call – Care immediately popped into my mind. I took a step back to take in the scene and evaluate the situation. There was no blood or bruises that I could see, so I didn’t think he had hit his head on the urinal or the floor when he fell. It looked safe to approach him, so I tapped him on his rather thick shoulder and asked him if he was OK, but there was no response. Oh my God, I thought, he’s unconscious and I knew I needed to call 911, but I was alone. He was on his back, so I positioned his left arm above his head, bent his right arm so as to put his right hand on his left shoulder, and bent his right knee. With Conan the Barbarian-like strength, I rolled him into the recovery position. I leaned over his ear so just in case he could hear me I said, in my best Austrian accent, “I’ll be back”.

Like a predator, I knew I had to hunt down some help and to get EMS on the way. I suddenly remembered the kindergarten cop I just saw a minute ago. I instantly became a classic running man as I headed towards the Governor’s Office. He was no longer there, but I suddenly heard his keys jingle all the way down the opposite hallway. I found him and told him that the Governor was unconscious on the floor of the bathroom nearest the Governor’s Office, to call 911 for help, to get a first aid kit and an AED, and to get to the bathroom ASAP.

I ran back to the bathroom to begin to care for Arnold. He was still in the recovery position so I loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. I knelt down close to his mouth and looked, listened, and felt for signs of breathing. I checked for a good five seconds, but I heard nothing and his chest wasn’t moving. He wasn’t breathing, so carefully, supporting his neck and head, I rolled him onto his back. I took off his tie and opened his shirt all the way. I tilted his head back with one hand on his forehead and one hand under his chin. I checked for breathing again. He still wasn’t breathing so I took out the portable face guard from my key chain and put it on Arnold’s face and fastened the loops around his ears. Keeping his head tilted back and pinching his nose, I tried to blow a breath into his lungs. The air wouldn’t go in, so I retilted his head and tried again. I still couldn’t get a breath in. His airway must have been blocked somehow. I removed the face guard and immediately tried to locate the chest thrust position. Arnold was very lean and his chest was well defined, so it was easy to follow his rib line up to the xiphoid notch. I placed two fingers just above the notch then positioned my left palm just above that point and interlinked it with my right hand. Centering my shoulders above my hand position and keeping my elbows straight, I gave him 15 chest compressions in an attempt to dislodge whatever was blocking his airway. His chest was so massive and muscular I really had to push to get the compressions about two inches deep. I then grabbed his chin and tongue with my right hand and lifted his jaw. Looking into his mouth I could see (and smell) a cigar butt in the back of his throat. I reached in with my left index finger and scooped out the butt. I replaced the face guard and retilted his head and tried to put in two breaths. This time they went in as I saw his chest rise twice.

I was just beginning to check for signs of circulation when the security cop rushed into the room. He said he had called 911 and they were on the way. He had the first aid kit and the AED. He said he was not trained in CPR or AED and couldn’t help me. We decided it would be better if he went outside to flag down and direct the EMS to the bathroom. I put on latex gloves from the first aid kit and returned to checking for signs of circulation. I began by first finding his Adam’s apple then slid down to the carotid artery position. After checking for ten seconds, I felt no pulse.

I opened the AED and turned it on. After wiping his chest dry with paper towels, I followed the instructions to put on the pads in the correct position and orientation. I then plugged the cables into the AED and it said it was analyzing and to stand clear. I mentally checked myself to make sure I was far enough away from Arnold. The AED could not find a pulse and recommended a shock. Again I made sure I was clear and I pushed the shock button at the AED’s prompt. The AED went into analyzing mode again and this time did not recommend a shock.

I tilted his head back again and checked for signs of circulation. This time I found a pulse, but he still was not breathing. I began rescue breathing by giving one breath and counting – terminator 1 – terminator 2 – terminator 3 – terminator 4 – then another breath. I continued this for 12 breaths then checked for his pulse again. The pulse was good but he still wasn’t breathing. I continued rescue breathing and on the third breath he suddenly began coughing and breathing on his own, so I quickly removed the face guard. He was still unconscious but at least he was breathing and had a pulse. It was at that moment that EMS arrived and took over.

As it turns out Arnold had had a heart attack and secretly underwent bypass surgery the next week when the rest of the world thought he was in China drumming up business for California. (I hear they used his stunt double for public appearances.) It was soon after I saved Arnold’s life that De Anza was suddenly awarded an endowed full-time faculty position to teach first aid, CPR/AED, and lifesaving classes. My wife and I were invited to Hyannisport, Massachusetts to vacation at the Kennedy compound. It was beautiful there with blue seas and sunsets of orange and red. Sonja was the name of the yacht where we spent many hours playing backgammon and Texas Hold’em with the Kennedy clan. Ted kept us in stitches with his stories of better days long gone. It was apparent after a long goodbye that we had become good friends with Arnold and Maria. I no longer see Arnold as the republican villain and destroyer of education. Arnold and I are as close as Batman and Robin and he calls me anytime he has a question about the community colleges. It pays to be CPR/AED certified. The end (or as my pal Arnold says, “Hasta La Vista, Baby”).

Pop Quiz question:

How many Arnold Schwarzenegger movie titles can you find in this story?

(Remember to use a #2 pencil with an eraser when circling movie titles)


More term paper examples, from the First Aid class, are at First aid and CPR short stories .

One was written by the student’s cat.


Too impatient to research all the movie titles? They are below, in the order they were used in the term paper:

a T-shirt on a student:

student t shirt governator:

But first, a few lines so you won’t be tempted to peek at the answers until you have given it your best try.







the 6th day


stay hungry

red heat



collateral damage

pumping iron

true lies


the end of days

last action heroes

raw deal

total recall

Conan the Barbarian


kindergarden cop

running man

jingle all the way

terminator one

terminator two

terminator three

red. Sonja

long goodbye



Batman and Robin