What do you do when a stranger collapses in front of you?
On Thursday, I nipped into Derby to go to the bank. Only, when I walked out of the Bus Station there was a man lying on the ground. There were about three people who’d just rushed to him, but I didn’t know what to do: Whether to just walk by because these good Samaritans had got it, or to stay and help because the situation needed all hands on deck. I stayed. I didn’t really help much, but I was there, regardless.
The poor man had just collapsed on the ground, he was drifting in and out of consciousness, and he really wasn’t a well man. I’ve never encountered a situation like this before, so I honestly didn’t know what to do. About five of us stayed with him throughout, and a few others drifted by for a few minutes at a time, even though none of us really knew him. It was the least we could do, because it was better than just walking by and letting him fend for himself.
One girl phoned for an ambulance. I gave him my coat as a pillow to stop his head lying on the cold pavement. We stayed with him, and tried to keep him semi-awake and talking. The ambulance took around ten minutes to arrive; but when it did, there was only one paramedic all by himself.
Because the man had fallen awkwardly and was already disabled, it was judged better to be safe than sorry. The paramedic needed to immobilse him, and therefore needed another crew to help put a neck brace on him, put him on a board, onto the trolley, and into the ambulance. He radioed the control room a couple of times, but there were no other crews available: So we had to help.
We had to help hold him still, help roll and scoop him up onto the board and then put him on the trolley. Once the paramedic had got him into the ambulance, he thanked us for our help and shut the doors. That was it. A totally surreal situation: over. All in all, we were with the man, who I won’t name, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
I don’t know how he is, and I really hope that he’s okay now, but at least I’m safe in the knowledge he wasn’t alone after he collapsed.
After that, I went to the bank. Normality had resumed, and it was just weird. I felt weird.
I was walking round Derby for ages in a total daze, clutching the coat that’d just served as a makeshift pillow for a poorly stranger.
Derby was beautiful that afternoon, with bright blue skies that stretched for miles, blissful sunshine and unexpected autumnal warmth, but I couldn’t help but focus on worrying about that poor man.
I took the photos for this blog post on my phone in a (frankly) vain bid to distract myself from overthinking the situation that had just unfolded before me.
Again, I really hope he’s well now.