Thursday, May 20, 2010

Help

Last Friday night, en route to a fundraiser, I travel through the city at the peak of evening traffic. On a four-lane street near downtown I drive about 40 mph as I sing along to the radio. Actual fresh air, rare in Atlanta this time of year, fills my car as I think about the weekend ahead. And then I see something I have never witnessed before. A man on a motorcycle, traveling toward me but at least a quarter of a mile away, hit something in the road. His bike goes down and he and machine slide on pavement at least 100 feet before crashing into a telephone pole.

It is not like watching Die Hard, there is no techno music playing like the carefully crafted crash scenes I have seen through digital enhancement. And it is not in slow motion. All of this compact fumbling of human and motorcycle seems crammed into a very narrow space of about five seconds.

I pull over and I run as fast as I can in high heels and party wear to where this man lies in the street at an awkward angle. The path to reach him littered with blood, skin, and broken bits of motorcycle. I am the first person on the scene. With his helmet off, I can see he is young. Maybe 25 years old. I am shockingly calm as I check to see if he has visible injuries and if he can speak. He is jarred, missing a great deal of skin from his right arm and leg, and can’t tell me whether his helmet came off in the crash or if he took it off.

I then run back to my car to get my phone. Luckily, someone else in a building saw the accident and met me on the street to tell me he called the paramedics. Running back to the accident, I see the cars have slowed down because of the debris from the bike in the road. Because traffic is backing up, drivers in cars who can not see what is the genesis of the delay begin to honk and shout out of their windows. A large truck full of large men seem the most agitated and yell "Get the F out of the way" to the cars in front of them. As I stepped closer to their window, to them I shouted a simple update and request. “There is a body lying in the street! SHUT YOUR MOUTH!”

Sometimes adrenaline speaks for itself.

The young man is in visible pain. I offer to call his family. He was on his way to work so I call his employer. Another person has come to help. He removes the motorcycle from the street. The boy in the accident wants to get up we assist him out of the street as well while we wait for the EMTs. He has a broken shoulder but is fully coherent under his anxiousness. Two of us stay with him until another woman comes to help. But hundreds of cars have passed us in the 30 minute window all of this takes place. Across the street people gather but do not come over.

What is keeping everyone at a distance? Maybe they think the situation is covered? The man is still lying on the sidewalk. Are they unsure how to engage? Why don’t they come over or pull over? My concern is that we, especially the lawyers of this country, have created a society that makes people afraid to help because of potential (and legal?)  repercussions. Say it isn’t so.

There are people that do this everyday. Military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics. But thousands of people’s lives have been saved by everyday strangers willing to get involved. You don’t have to be trained. And if you are not, you don’t perform treatment. But if no one else has come to help, if we can help without compromising our own safety, shouldn't we? And I certainly don't mean provide any kind of treatment if we are not trained. Sometimes someone scared or out of sorts simply needs a soothing voice or someone to hold their hand while they wait for medical help to arrive. 

Leaving that scene, that 30 minute window felt more like half the night had passed. I called my husband as soon as I got back in the car. He doesn't ask what I did. He already knows the answer. And I admit the image of seeing that crash is hard to shake but I hope I am never too afraid to help someone who needs it.

87 comments:

ajm said...

Wow. Good for you, for helping AND for shouting to the ignorant drivers. My husband is an ER nurse, and he says that 100% of motorcycle owners have a motorcycle injury of some sort. Sounds like this guy was lucky compared to many. And he's fortunate you were there. Still scary though, huh?

There are a few interesting psychology studies that look at why strangers don't help. You are actually more likely to receive help if there are less people around. People tend to diffuse the responsibility if more people are around, assuming someone else will take care of it. The Kitty Genovese case is one example. Sad.

Jennifer, Inside Out Colour and Design said...

Yay for you. It is a terrible world in which we live where we don't offer human decency. I hope there is a Jenny Mac around when I am sprawled on the roadside!

singedwingangel said...

Wow. First of all let me say I am so proud to say I know you.. like you i have watche as people simply drive on by. As the wife of a firefighter I know how cold hearted some people can be.. I personally could never drive past. Kudos to you for standing up to the morons in the truck although I am not sure I would have been as nice...threats for one of them to be the NEXT body in the street only by my hand would have possibly been uttered..

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for stopping, helping, and doing the right thing JennyMac. I wonder how many people went home that night and shared the story complete with the high-heeled woman who provided so much help. I bet you inspired at least one person to act instead of just watch the next time something like that happens.

leigh said...

Amazing...you held it so together. I don't work well in emergencies or blood. I drove to the scene of an accident to pick up a friend of mine who had gotten in a fender bender. The man in the other car had hit his head on the the windshield and was bleeding like crazy. I almost fainted. I was so ashamed because there I was to help and my friend had to fan my face and hold me up.

You are a strong lady! I'm glad that there are people like you in the world.

My name is PJ. said...

I'm proud of you, but not at all surprised by you.

The sad reality is that people play ostrich way too often because they're afraid to step in, get involved, help, do the right thing. It's shameful. It reminds me of movies shot in NYC, where people literally step over fallen bodies. Oy.

Babes Mami said...

Go Jenny Mac Go! I wouldn't expect any different and am shocked that other people didn't want to stop and assist!

TKW said...

I can picture you, in heels and enraged, yelling at those cretins that there is a BODY in the street so shut up! Awesome.

This reminds me of the Kitty Genovese case, where 69 people were witness to her being stabbed, calling for help, and then still not doing anything even when the killer left and then returned to finish the job. Hideous.

Liza said...

I don't know you, but I am proud of you. And the young man will remember and be grateful to those who were kind.

Cissa Fireheart said...

Last Year I saw a terrible car accident right in front of my house. After running downstairs, calling 911, and speaking to others (one a Navy medic) on the driver's condition and relaying to the 911 operator, I stepped back and watched as someone kept watch over the driver and tried to talk to her. I too had a hard time getting the image (and glass from a flipped car) out of my life.

I stepped back because at the time, there were plenty of people to help with the situation. Once the paramedics/fire/police came, I think it was good there were only a few people that were there, it was less crowded for the professional help. When the reporting cop asked who was the witness and caller, only then did I step up. I didn't want to be in anyone's way. And I seemed to notice that others were the same.

I commend you for your actions! But I wanted to speak up for those who didn't step in. Perhaps they felt the less people in the way the better, like I did in my situation. Perhaps they didn't have any clue and didn't want to mess the situation up, but were interested/concerned. Not saying some of them weren't jerks, but not everyone can be the fast-thinking, head-on-the-shoulder type in a traumatic situation. And sometimes when you are aware of your faults, the only thing you can do it stand dumbly and watch.

Johana Hill said...

May God keep blessing you and family. I'm glad I know you. ;p

Jenn@ You know... that blog? said...

Wow, that poor kid! (I'll refrain from jumping on my usual anti-murdercycle soapbox.)

It's amazing how many people just can't process things quickly enough to react well in an emergency. He's lucky you can, and that you were there for him. Well done.

Mrs Mom said...

Speaking from a (former) medics point of view.....

First, I commend you for stopping and offering comfort and assistance to the rider.

Next, yes- there *used* to be a "Good Samaritan law" that offered protection to those who did what you did- stopped and helped. It is my understanding that this law would help protect the GS in the event that more damage was caused to the injured person (ie: your bike rider removed his helmet and moved- had he broken his neck, that could result in paralysis and death. Which leads to a lawsuit, directed at the person who initially stopped to help.)

Lastly- for fire fighters/ medics arriving on scene- we *nee* that traffic to continue to move out of the way. We *need* room to work. It is a *help* to us, when people continue to move on by. As long as someone (or a couple someones) have stopped to stay with the injured, and have called for assistance, the rest of the folks *NEED* to move along...

I'm afraid that many people don't give a rat's tail, and won't stop. Many see that help is on the scene, and decide that they are not needed. And still many others fear a lawsuit.

f8hasit said...

Good for you not to be one of those rubber neckers that WANT to know what happened, but in no way shape or form will they assist.

Good for the young man to have had his accident (if it HAD to happen) in front of someone of a caliber of humanity like yourself.

I hope he is okay. Hope YOU are okay as well.

And you are SO right (again, as always) on your insight about lawyers and now why people won't go out of their way to help another.
Sad, isn't it?

MommaAmma said...

Good for fearless you! Once upon a time it was a rare person that wouldn't stop to help someone in need be it a wreck or a flat tire. I wish our society could feel safe enough to be that again.

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

Well done, dear lady. And some people really piss me off. The impatient idiots deserve to be hollered at and put in their place.
It is a rush though. I used to be a first responder at my work and then bowed out a few years ago. My boss still sends people to me or calls me when there isn't somebody else around.

carissa said...

Wow, such a good thing you did! I don't know what I would do in that situation but I would like to think I would have stopped too. I'm not sure why more people don't. Serious high five.

MommaKiss said...

Many do not DO. Out of fear? Inadequacy? No one knows...but thankfully you took action. Thankfully.

Eyeglasses & Endzones said...

I have to say that I would do the same thing! You go Girl!!! You are right there are too many people that are afraid to help people these days and this is why technology has become more important than human nature.

Im glad that he turned out OK and that you were there to help him and not the RUDE truck driver people!

The Boob Nazi said...

I drove by a motorcycle accident once. It was terrible, but I think we were most afraid of doing more harm than good.

Simply Suthern said...

Being on both ends of the spectrum (accident victim and EMT) I can appreciate you stopping to help. I watched a car over turn and then watched as car after car just drove by. Luckily she was OK but she was happy to have someone there till the officers and her hubby arrived.

It is a sad statement about our society not only not wanting to get involved but actually being annoyed they are being inconvenienced.

Cities and counties are not helping by actually billing witnesses who called for the ambulances now.

NIce Job, JM

Kelly Marie said...

Good for you for yelling at those people in the truck and for stopping to help! My husband and I were on our way to visit his grandfather in the hospital & a woman in a car flipped on the highway and I was surprised how many people actually stopped and helped (my husband ran to her). It was nice to see and I hope more people stop when they see something like that happen. I was scared when the car flipped I can't imagine how tough it was to see that image of a man on a motorcycle crash.

ellen abbott said...

I think fear of litigation does stop a lot of people. I also think that if there is help already being rendered, unless you have some special skill to offer, being a first responder or something, then there is no reason to stop because all you would be is a gawker. Personally, I wouldn't want a crowd of people just standing around gawking. Next thing you know some news person will be shoving a mike in your face asking you how it feels.

People are rude, no doubt about it and when they are impatient to begin with and can't see what's happening, they get ruder. so good for you.

Truth is though, you probably should not have moved him especially since his helmet had come off and the EMTs were on their way, traffic be damned. I had to take advanced wilderness first aid when I was a river guide and they tell you not to move the but to stabilize the head and neck so they can't move it until it can be determined if there is a head or neck injury.

But good for you for stopping. We encountered a flipped truck on the side of the highway not too long ago. We weren't the first to stop but perhaps the second. Several more stopped, help was called, the scene was stabilized. One guy bleeding on the ground, his friend holding his head and staunching the bleeding with his shirt. I didn't get hands on but instructed the friend what to do as best I could. the injured was awake and lucid and didn't seem to be in any immediate danger. Nothing else to do until help arrived and plenty of other people had stopped by then so we went on our way when we were assured that others would stay til help arrived.

Writing Without Periods! said...

Eh, if I remember correctly from my graduate work in "What the hell are people thinking", there is a group thought that "other" people will do what is needed. It's not intentional, just, "Oh, I bet someone else has called the para-medics" sort of thing. Or "Someone else will surely help." That's why I always call 911 or try to do something when this happens because I'm not sure anyone else will.

Loved your response to the guys in the truck...eh, I think we're related. :-)
Mary

Dumblond said...

Motorcycle accidents scare the crap out of me. A dear family friend was killed in a motorcycle accident about 20 years ago. I'm still afraid of those things...
I'd like to think that most of those people didn't come over to the young man because they didn't want to make a bad situation worse. They were afraid of hurting him worse when they were trying to help. That and seeing that he was already being helped by a couple of Good Samaritans...I have enough faith in people that if you hadn't been there, or if the other person hadn't, then one or more of those other bystanders would have stepped up and done what they could.

JennyMac said...

Shana, motorcycle accidents are scary. And I agree with you there is always the case where people rightfully know not to make a bad situation worse, and in faith, people will help if they think it is truly needed. The Kitty Genovese case is a perfect example of the opposite however.

I think unfortunately in this situation, one particular group of individuals seemed quite entertained by the actual accident itself. Hopefully that is an isolated reaction. I do think there are people who will always help, there are people who want to help but don't know how, and there are people who don't care. As I said before, those are the people who litter, talk on their cell phones in the movies, etc.

obladi oblada said...

Good for you! I think you are right; alot of people are afraid to get involved, afraid of doing the wrong thing, afraid of the responsibility. Love that you yelled at the truck of bafoons.I would have had to give them the bird too, Im afraid.

Krëg said...

Sounds like you did the right things.

I've had the misfortune to witness three horrific auto accidents in my life, and be the first "on scene" in two of those three. Neither accident victim was conscious, and both were going in to shock. Oddly enough, I managed to recall things I'd learned in Scouts and from the Red Cross instead of just panicking and freaking out.

As for people staying away, that is probably a good thing. I think it has less to do with living in a litigious society and more to do with people not wanting to compound the situation by crowding the few who are already helping. Some people just don't KNOW what to do when an accident strikes, and spend most of their time staring listlessly at the whole scene.

Kristina P. said...

My husband is a paramedic and works for an ambulance service, part time, and I am CPR certified. I have been with him on a few occasions where something has happened, and he has been right there to help.

I do think that a lot of people don't know what to do. I think that everyone should get CPR and First Aid certified.

You did a great thing.

Bossy Betty said...

I have a form of this discussion every year with my students and I am always shocked to hear how many of them would not help. I wouldn't even think about it. You do the right thing. We are here to help each other. Period.

SmartBear said...

You are right...I think most people wouldn't help. Sometimes I wonder if it's a fear of legal issues or if people are so self absorbed. Soapbox warning here: but I really think as a society we've become people who are most concerned with themselves. There is no sense of community. There are times, mostly when disasters happen that I see some glimmer of hope, but mostly I see a lot of self absorbed people who won't get involved.
I am so glad you stopped to help that man. It was the right thing to do! (Of course, you know that!)
Best,
Tina

Myya said...

Good for you for doing the right thing!! I was on the freeway one day when the jeep infront of me swerved because someone cut them off & all the sudden rolled & rolled & rolled. I saw a carseat in the back... thank God the little one was ok. Things flew out of the jeep... one being a puppy. There was way too much crap in the vehicle. Like they were maybe moving? I stopped made sure everyone was ok, waited for police & ambulance, gave statement & then went to search for the puppy. We found him & he was ok. Such a weird thing to watch... it was all so fast, yet kind of in slow motion. I'll never forget that feeling & I was scared, but I would stop again in a second to help!

Fumbling confidence said...

Thanks for doing the right thing. Our world would be far better if people were proactive instead of passive.

Fumbling confidence said...

Thanks for doing the right thing. Our world would be far better if people were proactive instead of passive.

foxy said...

Well, good for you for helping that poor guy out. And I think you're right about both things you suggested. People not only are scared to get involved (which I personally have a hard time understanding), but others might think that one more person would just be in the way. That the situation is effectively "handled" as is.

Witnessing an accident like that is really scary. Especially when you're the first one on the scene. I'm glad for everyone's sake that it wasn't worse.

Herding Cats said...

You did the courageous thing JennyMac. I hope this man is okay, and I'm sure he will always think of you fondly and GRATEFULLY. I can only hope that if I were involved in some sort of accident, someone as kind as you would help me!

Jen said...

Good for you JennyMac for stopping and doing what you could! Whenever I see a recent crash, I always check to make sure SOMEONE stopped to assist, otherwise I'd do what you did.

Pricilla said...

There are basically two types of people; those that wait to be told what to do and those that just do.

Fear of the unknown often stops people in their tracks. It is like a crowd in any kind of an emergency becomes an amoeba of uselessness.

I have seen it time and time again.

Good for you

shortmama said...

I have also witnessed a couple of accidents right before me and have stopped to help until professionals arrived, and the same scenario played out of people just passing by. Its disturbing to me that it is not in people to immediately offer to help.

Joann Mannix said...

I have been on the other end of the accident.

My husband and I were driving with another couple when a car veered into our lane and our friend driving swerved to not get hit and ended up losing control and slamming into a concrete pole on the side of the road. His girlfriend went through the windshield. My husband and I had minor injuries, but we were dazed as we tried to pry ourselves out of the car.

I still remember the angels who came to our assistance. The nurse who vaulted out of her car to come to our friend's aid as she lay on the side of the road unconscious and all the other wonderful folks who helped keeping us calm, helping us out of the car and staying with us until the ambulance came.

And then there were those, I can still remember who just gaped as they drove by. To this day, I don't understand that kind of behavior.

Our friend had some very serious injuries, but may years later, she is fine and married to that guy who was driving the car.

Thanks Jenny, for being one of the good guys. Do you know how the young man is doing?

Tara said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that story. I think that everyone is always so caught up in what's going on in their lives that they prefer not to get involved when they see something happening to someone else. Ridiculous, I know, but it's how people are. Thanks for showing everyone that there are people who still care in this world....

Eric said...

Good job, I'd like to think I would do the same thing. The only emergency situation I've been around was a Cessna plane crash nose down south of the Addison airport in Texas. I was worried to approach the wreck because of the fuel spilling out on the street from the crumpled up plane, but the police were there within seconds.

Also on the subject of helping / worrying... Being a man in today's world, I worry that I might think twice about helping an unknown child in a dangerous situation because of social perceptions, but I'm sure I would help out if the circumstances were hazardous enough (e.g. playing on a highway, etc).

Dang, more thought provoking than usual, huh?

DeNae said...

This has happened to me twice, and both times I ran to the scene before the screeching of tires had ended. While they happened in two different countries, both of the victims were spanish speakers, and I wound up offering what help and comfort I could in a language that wasn't my own. The second time, I just climbed into the passenger seat and held the woman's hand while she cried, obviously hurt and terrified.

And yet, I watched my brother get hit by a car, and I couldn't go anywhere near it. To this day I couldn't tell you why. We were both kids; maybe that had something to do with it. He was fine, eventually. But I did understand how some experiences are just too -- intense? And the people who realize they're too rattled by the whole thing to be of any help, do the EMTs and people like you and me - holding hands and whispering encouragement in a foreign language - an enormous favor.

And I'm not surprised you did that, Jenny. I get the feeling we're cut from the same cloth.

SPLENDEROSA said...

Brava for YOU! The way you responded is the way everyone should respond. Our country is filled with sheep. This is why DC is so messed up, because WE have allowed it. To stop & render aid is one of the most primitive instincts. To turn away is fear of becoming involved. I hope the young man will be OK. You're already OK. xx's Marsha

M-Cat said...

This post provided a flashback for me and a couple of years ago and a crash on I-15.

You are right, sometimes all we can do is sit with the injured and hold a hand until trained help arrives. But we CAN and SHOULD do something.

And yes, lawyers (sorry), have made many of us afraid.

Good on ya girl!

carma said...

you are a good person. those who gawk and do nothing - I don't really understand that; and those who scream to get out of the way - WTH???

J.J. said...

My sister is a nurse and my b-i-l is a doctor. He's said, "We don't like to get involved if someone else is already there. Fear of getting sued."

I can see his point. When people sue restaurants because they drop hot coffee in their lap, who's to say someone won't sue you for trying to save their life?

Sara Plays House said...

We passed a motorcycle accident on our way to Milledgeville once. The paramedics were just arriving, and a woman was on the ground, her helmet 50 feet away. By her position, I knew she wasn't going to walk away. That image still haunts me in my sleep.
Good for you for stopping--it's the right thing to do.

Eva Gallant said...

You are my hero! Knowing the risk of lawsuit better than the average person, you still got involved.

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

Thank you! If I had a wreck on my bike I would hope someone like you would stop to help.

I would stop to help, but I think your assessment of why the others 'stayed away' was spot on. Our country has become one of 'sue happy' and people are scared to lose what little bit they have because it's become too easy to sue someone 'just because'.

AmyLK said...

Good for you for helping. Its scary to see that happen right before your eyes!

Linda said...

So glad you stopped to help and a few others also. It is a scary thing to be in an accident and need help. You did the right thing Jenny!

Aging Mommy said...

How scary to witness, but good for you in jumping int to help without giving it a second thought. I don't know why so many people react differently and would not help out someone hurt and in need of assistance. I hope this young man makes a fast recovery.

Aging Mommy said...

How scary to witness, but good for you in jumping int to help without giving it a second thought. I don't know why so many people react differently and would not help out someone hurt and in need of assistance. I hope this young man makes a fast recovery.

Mighty M said...

Hope he is going to be okay....so glad you were there to help, when so many others just watched.

The Empress said...

People are afraid to stop, aren't they?

At least, that's what I hope the truth is.

I don't want to believe that they just don't care.

I hope that if anything ever happens to me, that there's a Jenny Mac around...

Amanda said...

Ever since we read a case in torts last year about liability for non-medical responders I admit - I've been hesitant to stop a couple situations. I mean, I'll willingly break the "keep the phone in your purse" law to call 911. But I don't know if I would pull over if I wasn't the first person there. I have zero medical training and I don't know what I would be able to do.
I saw an SUV get hit by a semi once, we were first upon the scene (there was still seed flying into the air from impact). It was horrible. The whole driver's side of the SUV was gone...car seat in the back. We pulled over, but 911 told us not to approach so we didn't. That was 2 years ago now, but it's stuck with me.

Props to you for helping, really. I'm glad he was okay!

Emily said...

Wow, girl. I feel for you...you've got to be shaken up. And that poor guy...thankfully he made it out.
I've noticed that people are reluctant to stop too.
Once, we saw a man get hit by a car (thankfully he was OK, broken leg only) but my dad (who's a physician) was the only one who stopped.
This problem is not new. In HS I did an essay which cited an article in the WP about a woman abducted at knife point and raped in an alley way. Tenets in the adjacent apt. complex could see and hear her yet no one came to her aid. After the perp left, she was alone on the street and still no one came to her aid. The perp actually returned and murdered her. Senseless. Terrible.

Badass Geek said...

Holy crap.

It took guts to jump right in and help like that. Good for you!

MrsDixon said...

GOod for you for helping! I'm sure that was very scary! But glad he will be ok...

Caty said...

Unfortunately a lot of people are afraid of getting sued. But I'm glad there are people like you who ran to his aid! I hope the image doesn't linger with you long...

Vivienne said...

What ajm said. Seriously. (It's called Bystander Effect, btw)

Lauren said...

You are amazing. I honestly can't say that I would have stopped to help because of the risks involved. I know that sounds awful but it's the truth. But I think I'll take a cue from your act of kindness and help someone in need. Thank you.

anaïs said...

it was great that you were there for someone who obviously needed someone to be there. i think that a lot of times people are also leery of helping people because of all of the scams that cons are playing in this day and age, effectively causing many people who would otherwise assist strangers in need of help to remain bystanders. maybe hearing about acts of kindness such as the one that you have shared will cause more people to move past the fear and be of service to those in need. thanks for helping that young man and for allowing us to bear witness to it via your recount of the events.

GypsyNurse said...

I admire your steady calm... I do this for a living.. and it is never easy.. and us who are trained are actually the ones who get into deep shit when we do what we are trained to do on the street! You are better off not being trained and helping!! But then again.. holding a hand..and just being there...is sometimes the best 'training' at the time..
Cheers girl..
Cat

The Random Blogette said...

Good for you! You are an angel! I think that it is amazing that you stayed so calm during this. I don't know if I could've remained that calm.

Jack said...

I taught First AID and CPR for a long time- many of my students were people who had seen accidents but had done nothing because they were unsure of what to do.

Kristin said...

This gives me hope...that there are people like you willing to dive in and help. People need to remember that it could be their husband, wife, son, daughter or best friend in need of help!

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Good for you JennyMac.

I think it's sad that anyone has to think what they would do. You should automatically go to help and if nothing else hold this young man's hand while you wait for help. My goodness that is common sense. But I suppose if sense were really common more damn people would have it now huh?

Intense Guy said...

Sadly enough, it IS so.

In my town someone was sued for "apparently" blotching up givnig CPR. Just the aggrevation of having to defend oneself in court over such "crap" would keep me away from "volunteering" let alone the fact the person that was sued ended up losing the case because his CPR certification had expired a few months before he rendered aid.

Add to that the insanity of many (young) motorcyclist doing stunts on the Interstates around here (at speeds of 85 mph plus) and you actually have people rooting for them to have accidents.

Mommy Lisa said...

I have never really had the opportunity to help someone that I didn't know - I saw two friends in a crash once and stopped to help them out - BUT, I know I would. Here is why.
Once I fell, slipped on a sandy patch on a downtown street, and BROKE MY ANKLE. I could not get up...I had to DRAG myself across the rest of the way with CARS BARRELLING DOWN ON ME because now the light was green. They all looked at my from their cars like, "WTF? Getouttatheway!" I got to the sidewalk and asked the only other person around, "Can you help me get to that door there?" They walked away FAST. (This was at 9am on a Friday morning outside of a newspaper building in DT Mpls.) I had to pull myself up with a parking meter and delicatly hop to the doors twenty feet away...collapsing into the doors and call up to the security desk to call "Mrs. W" - the security guy does this, but doesn't even come to see what is wrong!!! When Mrs. W comes she is totally sympathetic and rushes to me saying "What happened? Oh let's get you to my car and take you to the hospital! Do you want me to call anyone?" I started crying because THAT was the first helpful kind word I had since I fell and it seemed like forever!

THAT is how I know I would help anyone, any where, any time.

Luna said...

good for you. more people should do what you did. unfortunately many people will just stand back and look and do nothing. its the bystander effect. there are different reasons for it. some people will think that others have it taken care of. some will think i cant do anything or i'll get in trouble. yes believe it or not people can get in trouble if they try to do something to help and something happens. at the very least people should always call for help but many wont even do that.

Julie at MDMA said...

You rock, sister! And thank you for telling the truck full of douche-bags what was what ... that kind of stuff makes me INSANE!

I want to answer your question about why so many people did not come and help ... I live in Los Angeles and have seen more than my share of accidents and also, certainly, accidents that happened just before I got there. In any case, when someone is hurt, the first few people on the scene are helpful, the next few are concerned bystanders ... and all the rest just make a crowd that makes the whole situation more stressful for the victim and for the eventual rescuers. Also, if they didn't see what happened, they won't be able to help the paramedics or police so they should really just scat and try not to get in the way.

Now, don't get me started on the people standing around looky-lou-ing from across the street. I will never understand what they are waiting for, like it's a television show and they missed the first 5 minutes and they're waiting for Act II to see if they can catch up on the plot. Ugh.

Anyway, you are the person we all hope will be nearby when something bad happens. That's super cool.

Baloney said...

I hate seeing people punished for good deeds but it happens all the time.
I'm glad you stopped and helped him and I hope he will be okay.

Nat said...

It's good to read that there are still decent people like you out there, willing to help without fear of litigation if something does go wrong!

Cranky Mommy said...

I think for most people, the thought of being sued doesn't enter their minds in a situation like this. I'm sure there are people who think like that and that there are different kinds of situations where even regular folks do fret about being sued.
If there were several people with the young man, the observers were probably thinking that they might just be in the way. However, my CPR instructor said that most people are shocked into inaction so I'm sure that is a factor. Don't lose heart, just as there are people who "won't" do anything, there are people who will.

Amanda said...

Thank goodness there are people like you out there!! It really is scary how few there are though, and it is really scary to think that if something were to happen to me, I don't know if anyone would help. What is this world coming to?

MsDarkstar said...

I fell and slid on ice on a downtown street one day and when I got up I was bleeding and dirty and went to a bus stop (I was a bus rider at the time) where there were no fewer than 50 people and NOT ONE PERSON so much as asked if I was ok. NOT ONE.

What shocked me, though, was I had a routine dr. appt. the next day. As a result of my face hitting the curb, I had 2 black eyes, my face was scratched up and bruised and neither the doctor, the nurses or anyone else asked one question about it.

Several of my co-workers, though, left me brochures for the domestic abuse hotline.

If I had seen what you did, I would have stopped, too. I may not have touched the guy because I'm not medically trained but I would have called for help and made sure that he didn't get run over.

Maria said...

There are times when I am ashamed of people...

Ashamed that they possess no human compassion, that they will not do for others what they would want for themselves, for their loved ones.

Good for you JennyMac...

Shop Girl* said...

I've also been the first one on scene at a motorcycle accident, and it terrified me. The man in this accident wasn't quite so lucky--a compound fracture in his leg, broken arm and his bike exploded into flames as it skidded down the street, but he lived.

I found that people who came after were so caught up in the act of watching, that they forgot that they should be "doing" something. It was like they were watching a live TV show or something, completely desensitized to the fact that this was real life, real people, real hurt.

I think it's wonderful that you reacted the way you did and were able to provide some help to this guy. He won't forget it!

Teddy Started It said...

Good for you! The Man's always getting on me for jumping in to things like this. But if we all assume somebody else will take care of it...well, no one will. And that leaves some poor guy lying in a crumbled mess in the middle of the street with cars honking all around him. I wouldn't want to be that guy. So good for you for being the compassionate stranger.

Erin said...

So proud of you, JM.

There have been times I've stopped to help. THe last time, I did not because it was not an accident and my kids were in the car with me (woman was on the street, looked /seemed mentally ill and did not want to let her in my car). I did not help and felt endlessly guilty.

Sometimes we cannot help though we really want to---other circumstances may prevent it. But screw those who were yelling and complaining out of their windows. What hearlessness. I'm seething.

Thank God you were there for him. Thank you for stopping to help.

Clemson Girl said...

Yesterday on our way to meet friends for mexican food, someone break checked in the middle of traffic. A young girl, maybe 17 or 18, knew she wouldn't be able to stop in time and swerved off the road hitting the guardrail. The hubs didn't even hesitate. He pulled over, told me to call *hp, and jumped out of car to check on her. Plenty of other people all saw this girl crash and no one stopped. Just amazes me that not everyone's instincts are to stop and help.

secret agent woman said...

There us a diffusion of responsibility effect when people see there are others around. But I think that the first person on the scene is still fairly likely to help, as you did. And good for you for helping.

nicmac said...

I'm a nurse and witnessed many accidents. I stop and make sure somebody called 911. I do not touch anybody nor do I tell anybody I am a RN. During one of my refresher CPR classes they encouraged medically trained personnel not to touch injured people due to society being a sue nation. I have heard horror stories of MDs and RNs getting sued for helping and then they lose everything because their malpractice insurance doesn't cover them outside of work. Most of my co-workers have helped during accidents, but then slip into the crowd when EMS arrives.

Simply Mel said...

Thank goodness people like you still exist!

Why can't we all just live daily with the old adage:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?

HalfAsstic.com said...

God bless you, JennyMac. I agree with you completely. What a sorry state we're in when a person is broken and suffering and no one cares enough to offer a hand. Or even a kind word.