This afternoon I got an email saying that my evening classes were cancelled. I had done my homework and taken my books along to work with me so that I could leave straight after, but instead I headed home.
I walk the same route home that I walk to work in the mornings. It takes me between 15-25 minutes, depending on the speed that I am walking at and what kind of weather it is. Today it was a little cold – not as cold as it has been – but cold enough. I was on the approach to my apartment – In fact I could already see it in the distance. I just wanted to get home, get into my pajamas and climb into bed.
I continued down the road, focusing on nothing in particular. I tend to walk with my head down as I am always paranoid about stepping in something untoward. I walk with my head down and scan ahead as I do so. Today was no different. As I scanned ahead, I spotted something weird-looking in the distance. It was big and awkwardly shaped. As I approached it, I realised it was a person. He was laying on the ground in quite a strange manner. His face was on the ground with his bottom in the air. It looked as if he had been on his knees and fallen forward. He had a plastic bag that he was clasping with his right hand that had fallen in front of his face and his left arm seemed to be twisted underneath him.
Initially I walked past slowly trying to look to see if I could see if he was injured in any way, but I couldn’t continue walking knowing that someone could be in distress or unconscious in the middle of the street. People walked past and as they did they walked wide whilst looking over at him. I couldn’t leave him like that so I walked back towards him dialling the emergency services as I did so.
I spoke to the operator and asked to be put through to the ambulance service. I was connected through and there began my conversation with the operator. He asked me a series of questions about myself before beginning to ask about the call I was making. He asked me to describe what was happening. I explained the situation – how I came across a gentlemen looking as if he was passed out on the street and also making emphasis on the fact that since I had been watching him and been on the phone he had not moved a muscle – he hadn’t even flinched! I made the operator aware that this could in fact be a drunk person having had too much to drink deciding that he wants to take a nap in the middle of the street. We proceeded talking and he asked if I knew if he was breathing. I didn’t know and to be honest I was too afraid to check so I reiterated that I was yet to see him move. As I stood there talking as people walked past they began to slow down and look at me.. Not to check whether the gentleman was okay but to ask what was going on. Only one woman stopped and asked if anyone had called an ambulance to which I replied I was on the phone to them and she walked towards me and waited with me.
After about 5 minutes of speaking to the operator, he informed me that an ambulance had been dispatched to my location and to watch out for it (as my description of where I was wasn’t great – I didn’t even know the name of the road I was on!) and that he would remain on the line with me for as long as he could. Before a minute passed I could see the ambulance coming down the road. Even though we tried to flag them down, they went past us before realising. They continued on to the bottom of the road, turned around and headed back up to where myself and the woman were stood.
The woman I was with flagged them down and as they pulled up a paramedic came out. He said thank you for waiting and approached the gentleman. He began talking to him and he guy lay still on the ground with no movement. The paramedic didn’t have any gloves on so he went into his pocket and started searching. In the moments he did this, the other paramedic hopped out of the ambulance with gloves on and approached the gentleman. He got down close to him and started talking to him before putting a hand on his shoulder to rouse him. The guy lifted his head and looked around confused. I didn’t realise I was holding my breath but at that moment I breathed a sigh of relief when he started moving and was helped to his feet.
I watched for a few moments more before leaving the paramedics to it and continuing on home. I thanked the woman who stopped for waiting with me and she expressed her sadness at the fact that people were just walking past the man in the street without checking to see if he was okay.
I think as people, we have a duty of care to others, whether we know them or not. We are not there to judge or to decide whether someone is worthy enough to receive our attention, I just feel if someone – like this gentleman – seems to be in a vulnerable position that we help them. What if next time it isn’t a drunk (and so what if it is? They could well need some assistance), what if it were someone who we knew and something had happened to them and people just walked past? I couldn’t do it. It would break my heart. I always think that it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’d rather help someone and look an idiot than not and regret it.
But yeah.. I thought I would share what happened to me today. I didn’t end up going to class but I did end up helping someone, which I have found is equally as rewarding.
I hope you have all had a restful Armistice day.