I apologise in advance for the first section of this post.
On a busy motorway a small black high performance car drew the attention of police officers parked on an observation platform. Officers began to follow but the driver of the car was aware, increased speed and began to make off. The car had a head-start on the officers and drove somewhat recklessly to advance well ahead of them. Leaving the motorway it joined a dual carriageway and continued to flee. The officers were no longer in sight of the vehicle and at least a mile behind it.
Meanwhile the vehicle was approaching traffic lights on red with a build up of traffic. Just before the lights there was a break in the central reservation to allow a right turn into a small housing area. In order to avoid the queue the vehicle swerved through the gap and continued toward the main junction on the wrong side of the road. A pedestrian crossing at the junction stepped off the central verge and began to cross. He knew the road well and that as a dual carriageway the traffic would all come from his left. He never looked right. This poor young man had his life stripped from him seconds later. The car failed to stop and to my knowledge the driver was never found.
Paramedics were called and more police made the scene. I was one of those patrols attending. On arrival I found the paramedics attempting resuscitation. This poor young man was a mess. The worst I had ever seen. There were no two ways about it; he was dead. The technician was rapidly deploying a stretcher but whilst he did the paramedic applied compressions to his chest. Bodily fluids ejected from his nose, mouth and ears with each compression. It was an awful sight. A small crowd had gathered and were watching. With as much dignity as could be mustered the young man was extracted to the ambulance where he was simply covered over.
Some weeks later I spent a few hours in the company of the ambulance crew to take statements. They described the mans injuries as “incompatible with life”. I asked them why when he was in such a state did they even try CPR. The answer was one of public perception. They noted a crowd had gathered and ambulance crews are often criticised by an untrained public if they are ostensibly seen to do nothing. As such, futile as it was, they attempted CPR until the injured party was out of sight of the public.
Today whilst sat in the coffee shop at Sainsbury’s I felt a sharp pain on my thumb. A bit like a pin being stuck in me. I had no warning and wondered what on earth it was but as my thumb started to swell a little I knew I had been stung. I thought little of it, despatched to wasp heaven the nearest one I could see on the window and continued my coffee. Approximately 10 mins later a young boy of about 7 or 8 burst into tears. He was visibly distressed and in pain. It transpired he too had been stung. The mother was on her own and didn’t know what to do. Another lady went to assist and then dashed to the counter to tell the staff. I sat on and watched as all seemed to be in hand. I was quite impressed when in a very short space of time a Sainsbury’s employee appeared. He had a headset on with a boom mic and a first aid bag slung over his shoulder.
He met the lady and engaged in conversation. I returned to my coffee but kept glancing over and then heard him say “I’ll stay with the boy”. What happened next infuriated me beyond belief. The staff member sat with the boy whilst he sent mum into the store to buy something from the pharmacy. I was appalled.
Mum duly returned with a little Sainsbury’s bag with some cream. The “first aider” then left. I sat and chunnered about this to a friend and then almost blew a gasket at what happened next. The Sainsbury’s first aider had returned and was filling out a form and getting mum to sign it. What for? To confirm and validate he had done “bugger all?”
Is this what society has become? I ask the question but I know the answer. Yes, it is what society has become.
We are a society that says we can’t hold the hand of the lost child in a shopping centre whilst we walk around looking for family for fear of accusations of attempting to abduct them. We are the society that crosses to the other side of the road when someone is in trouble on our side. We are the society that steps over and around someone having a fit and carry on with our shopping. We are the society that insists people are trained in first aid but then don’t actually want them to use it and sue them when they do.
How back to front are we? I feel for ambulance crews around the country. Highly trained yet open to litigation at every job. Yet they face the same lose/lose situation that I do as a first aider. I’m trained and have a duty of care. If I do nothing I’ll be in trouble for not acting. If I do something to the best of my ability and it’s not good enough I’m in trouble.
I grew up with a maxim. “Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.” I try to continue with this now. Maybe some of the medical litigators and those families who choose to bring actions in the name of compensation need to give this some serious thought.
There is a line. Trying to perform a tracheotomy with a pencil is particularly stupid. Trying to do something beyond the scope of your training is a danger area but why do businesses spend millions of pounds a year teaching people to do first aid and then have them frightened to death of using it? Why are the general public so quick to blame others for their misfortune? It may be something to do with the amount of adverts by legal companies who peddle phrases such as “where there’s blame there’s a claim”? Our greedy eyes take over and “yes I deserve compensation for this because I’m not responsible for my own misfortune” is the engendered mindset. What a crazy CRAZY situation.
What ever happened to compassion? Whatever happened to empathy? Whatever happened to caring for those around us like we would like to be cared for ourselves? Instead of inaction through fear. Instead of crossing the road or ignoring a situation step up to the mark and show your colours. Let’s give Aid First.
On days like today I really don’t like the people we have become.