A PAT incident in class
Any readers out there with a qualified background who feel moved to send some advice, I’d appreciate it.
This is serious stuff, so serious comments only, please.
I had an incident in class last Saturday. It was a supplementary class – pretty much a normal Monday-Friday class in terms of material, as opposed to a one-time seminar on some interesting Hung Gar weapon. One young man had come without an aide (from the adult day care where he goes to M-F), but with his mother. We have computer displays at the back where normally aides can watch the telemetry grabbed from FitBits or whatever gizmos students are wearing. We’d like to cool someone off if they show signs of overheating, try to preempt (or at least lessen) seizures and that sort of thing. At the moment, the screens are turned away from me (they would likely be a distraction, and I could not read them at that distance anyway). About 45 minutes in the young man’s mother got a phone call and walked out of the room to take it. The young man started having PAT (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia – heart rate roars to 200, temp goes up, blood pressure is elevated). Once you’ve seen it, it is not easily forgotten. So I sent one of the two aides to get the mother (not a recommended practice as it leaves the aide’s students under-supervised).
I told everyone to sit down for a break (a desperate tactic by me) while I got the young man seated. He is 6 foot 3 and about 270 pounds, so that took some doing. As I understand it, during PAT people cannot hear or see, and can react violently to being approached or touched. I got him started drinking cool water and got a cool wrap (special cloth that cools by evaporation) on his head. Impertinent editorial footnote: I have to say he looked like he was wearing a hijab – had things not been so serious, I might have laughed.
His mother returned. I figured I was in for a yelling about how tai chi was dangerous, I couldn’t teach … Instead, she knelt down next to her son and starting crying. That got the whole class (and me) staring. Well, Golden Rooster Stands on One Leg (from Single Sword, Lao Jia 1 and Xin Jia 1) has its points as a defense, but neither it nor any other tai chi chuan posture is of even limited use against tears.
I have no idea what the best (or even a reasonable) response should have been (hence this webpage). Nor am I clear that the next actions were optimal, but I had the class and the young man, who seemed okay, do a few quick warm-ups and we re-started back where we were. Take #2, as they say in the movies.
I did promise the mother to make and post a video (using an actor for her son) – as soon as I have some consensus on
whether what I did was right. We are playing for very high stakes where one mistake is two too many. The medical
opinions from the major leaguers at UCSF (the medical school in San Francisco for the University of California for you out-of-staters) were (1) everything I did seemed right (2) I did not do anything that looked wrong (3) for the moment, nothing else I could have done BUT (4) the family needs to get a DNA test for the young man and see a specialist.

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