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The Body at the Bus Stop

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
#1
So I’m coming back from the gym at lunchtime, which involves two bus rides. The first one drops me at Warren St, then it’s round the corner for the second bus along Euston Rd. A simple and quick journey, most of the time. But there’s a body at the bus stop.

Three or four people are milling round it. My first instinct, and I’m not proud of this, is to just avoid. It’s probably a drunk, or a user. People seem to be getting involved. Not much I can do, and I’ve got a call scheduled in a few minutes.

Then I have a pang.

There’s a guy – officer worker? - huddled over the body. Sort of taking charge. I say to him:

“Have you got a pulse?”

He looks at me like he doesn't know what I’m talking about.

So now, I have to get involved, cos no-one has thought to check if this person is alive or dead.

Hopefully, I will be able to remember a bit of basic first aid.

Yes, there’s a pulse. Yes, he’s breathing. Put him into the recovery position. Stick a coat under his head, tilt head back a bit to clear the tongue.

What else? It’s been a few years since I took a first aid course.

He’s an Indian guy, young, quite smartly dressed.

Did anyone see him fall? Did he hit his head?

No, he collapsed onto a passer-by.

Ambulance is called.

People start approaching me with suggestions. “Give him some water!” says a mum pushing a pram. Well that’s not going to work is it? I’m mean, the guy’s unconscious!

“Why don’t you carry him to A&E?” UCL is only 100 yards away, but there’s no way I can carry a dead weight that far. I don’t even know what’s wrong with him, I could easily make things a lot worse.

Twenty minutes go by.

He keeps breathing, thank god. I honestly don’t know if I’d remember artificial respiration.

“Can I help? I’m a doctor.”

She’s walking back from lunch and takes charge. Gets the ambulance crew on the phone.

So that’s it. My work here is done. Back on the bus, to my overdue phone call.

Moral of the story is – get involved. Don’t assume that others know what to do or what they’re doing. And take – or refresh – a first aid course. It will happen to you, sooner or later. Be prepared.
 
#2
You can't just ignore something like that, at least I can't. I would have to help.
Generally, if they are not actually in a dangerous position or location you shouldn't move them. Wait for trained emergency medics to arrive. Just make sure that the patient is breathing OK.
The person who suggested carrying him to A&E was an idiot, you don't know what sort of damage you might do to him or what injuries he might have.
Sounds like you did all the right things.
It shakes you up a bit, something like that. You start to think, well what if it was me lying there. You'd like to hope somebody would be willing to help you.
I think EVERYONE should be taught basic first aid care such as how to deal with something like that. Even if it is just to know how to look after someone until professional help arrives. It's more knowing what NOT to do to make anything worse.
 
#3
Something similar happened to me on a train: when I got on, there was a woman on the floor of the carriage, and another woman supporting her head. Woman #2 was asking for help as people got on. I was the third on: the two people in front of me just pretended not to see /hear and charged into the carriage, head down, to grab a precious seat (it was rush hour). I called for the guard, who fortunately was on the platform not too far away, and he came and took over -- called for a doctor on the train's PA system, and one appeared. But first aid? I don't have a clue. Yes, I should take a course, you're right.
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#4
I think EVERYONE should be taught basic first aid care such as how to deal with something like that.
Totally agree, Tim. I think everyone should learn. Easily done: make it compulsory for anyone who is learning to drive (I believe this is the case in some countries). That way much of the nation would be covered.

And even if someone doesn't know what to do, there might be a place of business nearby who has a first aider.
 
#5
Well done, Agent Pete...you did all of the right things and none of the wrong things. I had a similar experience, a week after I'd attended a first aid course at the community centre that I helped to manage; I was roped in as an unconscious accident victim, allowing the trainees to put me in the recovery position—which was less fun than it sounds—I was pinched and bruised.

Visiting my local supermarket, I stood bored in the queue, noticing that the cashier appeared to be having breathing problems and was sweating and rubbing her left arm. I'd suffered a minor stroke ten years before, so guessed what was about to happen. She fell off her stool, bashing her head, which immediately started to bleed. Collapsed in her cubicle, she was difficult to access, but I put her in the recovery position while instructing a shopper to phone for an ambulance. The cashier was unconscious, but breathing OK. At this point, a tubby security guard leapt on my back! He assumed I'd attacked the cashier, but the other shoppers shouted at him to get off me.

The ambulance arrived promptly, and she was taken to the local hospital. The supermarket manager came over to thank me for my assistance. It says much about British manners, but I then went to the back of the queue, as I'd lost my place!

The cashier made a full recovery.
 

Geoff

Ambassador
#7
Good thinking, well done! Good point about first aid refresh. Last time I did a first aid course was twenty years ago. I can remember the recovery position and resuscitation but not much else. Do they still use orally administered brandy or rum as an anaesthetic?
 
#9
Well done, Agent Pete...you did all of the right things and none of the wrong things. I had a similar experience, a week after I'd attended a first aid course at the community centre that I helped to manage; I was roped in as an unconscious accident victim, allowing the trainees to put me in the recovery position—which was less fun than it sounds—I was pinched and bruised.

Visiting my local supermarket, I stood bored in the queue, noticing that the cashier appeared to be having breathing problems and was sweating and rubbing her left arm. I'd suffered a minor stroke ten years before, so guessed what was about to happen. She fell off her stool, bashing her head, which immediately started to bleed. Collapsed in her cubicle, she was difficult to access, but I put her in the recovery position while instructing a shopper to phone for an ambulance. The cashier was unconscious, but breathing OK. At this point, a tubby security guard leapt on my back! He assumed I'd attacked the cashier, but the other shoppers shouted at him to get off me.

The ambulance arrived promptly, and she was taken to the local hospital. The supermarket manager came over to thank me for my assistance. It says much about British manners, but I then went to the back of the queue, as I'd lost my place!

The cashier made a full recovery.
Well, that took a comical turn with a sad ending for you...glad the cashier made a recovery of course. I would have hoped that at least you'd have been at the front of the queue.
 
#10
Good for you, @AgentPete .

I had a similar experience, a week after I'd attended a first aid course at the community centre that I helped to manage;
I think participating in a first aid course does something to the probability of finding yourself in a position where you need to use it. The week after completing just such a course I had to deal with two random casualties: an elderly man who fell down a stairwell and someone who had fallen and hit their head on the pavement. Not sure if it's fate making sure you get to practise your new skills or what.
 

Barbara

Guardian
Benefactor
#13
Do they still use orally administered brandy or rum as an anaesthetic?
@Geoff . One of those cute brown Swiss dogs with a barrel attached to the collar.

On a side note, I wonder if people are simply too scared to get involved sometimes. But it's always better to risk being sued, mugged or whatever, if it means someone who is in trouble can go home tonight. And sometimes, the best thing we can do is to get help. A while ago, I saw a bloke lie on a grass verge next to a main street. I'm a up-to-date first aider, but something about this guy was off, and I was alone. I didn't dare go near him. Instead, I told the security guard at the nearby base that someone back there might need help. They went and checked him over. Turned out he was simply having a nap.
 
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AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
#14
I think participating in a first aid course does something to the probability of finding yourself in a position where you need to use it. The week after completing just such a course I had to deal with two random casualties: an elderly man who fell down a stairwell and someone who had fallen and hit their head on the pavement. Not sure if it's fate making sure you get to practise your new skills or what.
I was wondering about that, too. I think I definitely wouldn't have intervened if I hadn't done a couple of courses - been too worried about doing something wrong.
 
#15
Superb @AgentPete.
Wouldn't have moved him though incase of any broken bones or CPR needed to be performed.
If he is not fitting I would have kept him comfortable.
But if he began to froth or fit I would have moved him into the recovery position.
As long as his airway is clear just tilt his head/chin up a little and as long as he was breathing and had a pulse.
Being a nurse I would have used the light on my phone to see if his pupils respond to light and close observations until an ambulance arrives.
But fair play Pete.
Is the gentleman okay?
 
#16
Well done, @AgentPete! Damn right about getting involved. On a lighter note... My daughter is currently working (weather permitting) in the wineyards about 20 minutes away. She turned up at work and was told to go home because the 'mother of all storms' was about to hit. She got back in the car and set off. Suddenly a small dog appeared in the road in front of her, so she slowed down and then stopped. There are no houses visible. He walked straight up to the car. She got out to say hello, as one does to random animals, where upon he hopped into the car and made himself at home on the passenger seat. As she was checking his colar, the storm hit. She traced the owner and took the little fellow home. It turned out that he's quite brave about many things, but absolutely terrified of storms.

OK, not as wonderful as potentially saving a life at a bus stop...
 

AgentPete

Capo Famiglia
#18
Is the gentleman okay?
I don't know. One of the things that struck me quite forcibly afterwards was that for 20 mins or so I’d been caring for a complete stranger. Every breath & pulse mattered. It’s a pretty intimate connection. Then suddenly back to the anonymity of the city. Very strange. I really hope he’s OK, but I don’t even know what was wrong with him.
 
#21
I’d been caring for a complete stranger. Every breath & pulse mattered. It’s a pretty intimate connection.
It does, I do it everyday in my work. Its such a surreal feeling. But by the sounds of it Pete you did all you could and you did great. It takes a specific person to do, what you did. As its true most people walking past would have avoided. It makes me question what sort of world we live in really sometimes, Such distance, disasters and detachment. Its wrong really.
But I really hope the gentleman in question is OKAY.
 
#22
I don't know. One of the things that struck me quite forcibly afterwards was that for 20 mins or so I’d been caring for a complete stranger. Every breath & pulse mattered. It’s a pretty intimate connection. Then suddenly back to the anonymity of the city. Very strange. I really hope he’s OK, but I don’t even know what was wrong with him.

I guess that´s the beauty of it, isn´t it? And sometimes, the best thing you can do is just be there to hold their hand. A few years ago, I was working at a University and I went into the bathrooms and there was a woman there, I knew she was a teacher because i´d seen her in the halls, but I didn´t know her name and we had never spoken. Anyway, she was sitting on the floor, crying and moaning and she was all alone. Apparently, she was having a very, very bad gastritis attack ( or..whatever the medical term may be). She couldn´t get up because the pain was so intense, and she was very distraught. ( this was when cell phones weren´t that big). I helped her up but she was still crying ( she was also depressed and had fibromyalgia) so, I walked her to my car ( it was late and not many people were around ) and drove her to the nearest hospital, all the while, she was in a sort of trance. She told me she had called her husband but he hadn´t shown up. When we got to the hospital I had to explain everything to the nurses and I decided to wait around to see if the husband in question finally showed up. He did, and he started chewing her out for being such a crybaby. I was heartbroken. Flashforward to last year, I ran into her at a reunion and she remembered me, told everyone how nice i had been to her, and finally thanked me. I was happy to hear that she had divorced the jerk.

I love reading your everyday, city life stories. :)
 
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