While sitting at my desk at my first real job out of college the door burst open one afternoon.
“Get Leonard!”, shouted my coworker as he disappeared through the door just as fast as he had entered.
I wasn’t sure what was going on but my coworker, Scott seemed very upset. Calmly I walked around to find Leonard. It took a while to find him, he was in a conversation with someone so I politely cut in. Leonard seemed as befuddled as I did. As we crossed into a common hallway, Scott, the upset coworker, found us both.
Still upset he motioned us into the glass hallway that connected the buildings in which we worked. Upon arriving I saw two construction workers kneeling over a third worker who was unresponsive on the floor. I now knew why Scott had called for Leonard. Everyone seemed panicked but could only stare at the man on the floor.
Quickly Leonard loudly asked, “Has anyone called 911?”
There was no response. Hearing nothing I volunteered. I rushed back to my desk, grabbed my cell phone and called 911. I told them what little I knew and where to find us. The operator told me an ambulance was on the way. As I came back to the scene nothing had changed. Everyone was still staring at the unresponsive worker. I told Leonard I was going to go outside to wave down the ambulance. By this time more people were coming to check out the situation.
As I waited to hear the sirens of the ambulance I wondered why no one else called 911? I immediately recognized that Leonard had taken charge of the situation and started to make things happen, but there were three other men there. That’s when I began to understand that not everyone has the wherewithal to take charge or even act in an emergency situation.
I had taken a CPR class about seven years before. In the video, they addressed that even though people know CPR, not everyone would have what it took to remember what to do let alone act. I had just witnessed such a situation. It turns out everything would be fine. The ambulance came and the paramedics knew the man on the floor. Apparently he was prone to having episodes like this one.
When faced with a medical situation, fire or other emergency it is important that responders be called quickly and don’t assume someone else has called 911. Make sure you know how to act when that time comes. If you take charge, then point out someone to call 911 while you help in any way you know how. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get out of the way. Not everyone is a hero and not every situation calls for a citizen to be one.