Thursday 1 August 2013

Walk on by? The day I became a traffic cone.

Today, as I was driving home from the petrol station, I noticed a car stopped in the road opposite the Branch End play area. A man and a woman were tending to an elderly woman who was lying half-on/half-off the pavement. I parked up and went to check whether they needed help, whether an ambulance had been called, etc. As expected, all the necessary calls had been made, an ambulance was on its way, and someone had even informed the Branch End surgery in case somebody there could assist. The woman, it seems, had tripped on the curb and banged her head. The man was holding the her hand and gently reassuring her. The other helper told me that when she stopped to help the old lady she had noticed that many cars had simply driven on past. This troubled me as I thought we lived in a friendly and caring place. It is possible, of course, that some of those who failed to stop didn't even notice the person lying in the gutter, but I don't really find that to be credible.

Shortly after a GP from the surgery showed up and began to do the usual checks.  As he did this he asked me to stand out in the road a little way to prevent any passing cars from clipping him while he worked. "Okay", I thought, "I know how to do that". He was doing fine when, a few minutes later, a solo paramedic arrived. The doctor immediately deferred to the newcomer, acknowledging that the paramedic was more qualified to assist as he deals with this sort of thing every day. Once the hand over was complete the GP returned to the surgery knowing the right expert was providing the right assistance. Shortly thereafter two further people from the GP's surgery turned up and set about determining how to get in touch with the lady's daughter who lives in the village. Then an ambulance arrived and the woman was moved into one of the emergency vehicles for further triage before being taken to hospital for an x-ray. My job done I moved back onto the pavement. The two concerned people who first assisted the woman, seeing that they were no longer needed, said their goodbyes and departed to go about whatever it was they were originally on their way to do.

So, although people drove by and didn't stop to help, two good-hearted people did. And because of that, professional assistance was sought, and the woman who tripped and fell got the expert help she needed. Perhaps people don't stop because they feel they don't know what they can do to help. I initially wondered that myself, but then I realised that I could at least call an ambulance. Don't let not knowing what to do prevent you from helping. Do what you DO know how to do and then leave the rest to the professionals. Sometimes you just have to know when to be a traffic cone.

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