Monday, April 14, 2008

Breaking out of Complacency!

Last week my wife and I had an "interesting experience." While walking our dog Ginger a mile (the normal loop) and then an extra block, my wife wanted to go yet another extra block . For some reason I decided not to protest the second extra block (which is unusual). As we were walking, we noticed a bicyclist with a headlight coming toward us in the dark. The bike was not going fast, and then seemed to slow, stop, and the light fell 1/2 block up the road. The light didn't come up again.
At first I figured it a child who laid a bike down in the street at house. There was no scream, no yelling for help, but my wife expressed concern that the light still wasn't moving after 1/2 minute. She started walking faster to a jog, pulling Ginger. A few steps behind, my flashlight showed a rider, middle-aged woman, who was not moving. My wife went to her, found out her name, Paula, and asked if she was okay. Paula wasn't - she was hurt and may have hit her head (she didn't have a helmet), her shoulder and hip. We asked her if there was someone we could call on our cell phone, and Paula said, "No," her husband was out of town and there was no one else. We called EMS with Paula's approval. I talked to 911 on the phone, while my wife talked to Paula to comfort her and keep her talking. We found out Paula was 49 years old. She seemed really scared.

Likely the most scary thing is that Paula was laying partially in the roadway, in a very dark part of the street. She was not making noise much at all, and if we had not come along, she easily could have been hit by a fast-moving car (they often go fast on that stretch) without her even being seen. It was about 9:20pm and who knows when someone else would have found her. Paula's bike lights may have been visible in one direction, but not the other way. Since EMS said not to move her, I stood over my wife and Paula with a flashlight in case any cars did come along. EMS arrived about 4 minutes later. Heather and I took command until the EMS arrived and stayed until EMS left with Paula.

If we had not come along, it is unclear how long Paula may have lain there, with no one to call, no way to call them (she didn't have a cell on her), and seemingly unable to scream for help. Even if she had a cell, it seemed unclear whom she would have called - and I think that is what was so frightening to her. In whatever grace exists, my wife decided to go "another" block and I decided not to fight it. What surprised me most, though, is that with an EMS truck in the middle of that block, the only neighbors who came out were two walking at a distance without offering help, and the neighbor whose yard we were in front of, who only came out after the EMS had gone. From talking to Paula, she was from that block and know one apparently knew her.

Do you know your neighbors? Do they know you? Who would you call in such a situation? Modern society seems to accept such isolation. Maybe this is a message to everyone to connect more, since who knows whom might be the next person laying on the road in the dark, injured and alone. While Paula apparently had a guardian angel looking over her, do you want to rely only on finding the kindness and leadership of strangers to protect you or your loved ones?

[Note: Paula expressed great appreciation for us at the scene and called us the next day. She was home from the hospital, her husband had returned home and she was doing fine, although very bruised. Her dislocated shoulder had apparently popped back into place while she was loaded onto the ambulance.]

1 comment:

Tom Magness said...

Well done, my friend. Thank God you went that "extra block." Hooah! TM