Your Hesitancy Is Not My Emergency

| Melbourne, Australia | Working | April 29, 2013

(I am a university student using a library computer for an assignment. Suddenly, a young man walking nearby makes an odd sound and falls to the ground, twitching and vomiting before lying completely unconscious. I rush to help as a security guard comes up.)

Guard: “Don’t touch him!”

Me: “Oh, great, are you trained in first aid? I did my training two years ago; you might be better at this!”

Guard: “No, just leave him alone! He’ll be fine; go back to whatever you were doing.”

Me: “He’s unconscious and vomiting. He could very easily choke and die. Why the h*** don’t you want him to live?”

(I ignore the guard and start putting the unconscious man into the recovery position. This is difficult as he’s well over 2m tall and is quite heavy, and I am barely 1.5m.)

Guard: “We could get sued! Get away from him!”

(Once the man is on his side safely, I check his pulse and breathing, and then call an ambulance.)

Me: “Hello, I’d like an ambulance please. I have an unconscious man who has just had a seizure here at [address].”

Guard: “What? No! CANCEL THE AMBULANCE! CAN YOU HEAR ME DOWN THE PHONE? CANCEL IT! WE’LL GET SUED!”

(He keeps yelling as I continue on the phone.)

Emergency Services: “We’ll send an ambulance immediately. Is there anyone trained in first aid nearby?”

Me: “I did a certificate two years ago, but I’m really scared and not confident. I put him in the recovery position, and his pulse and breathing are normal, but he’s still unconscious. What should I do?”

Emergency Services: “That’s exactly the right thing to do; don’t worry. Just make sure if he vomits again that he doesn’t choke, and he may have another small seizure. Just let him have the fit and try to get him back into the recovery position afterwards. An ambulance is already on its way.”

Me: “Oh, thank you so much! This is really scary!”

Emergency Services: “You’re doing fine by the sounds of it. But, uh, who’s that screaming in the background?”

Me: “That’s the library guard. He’s worried about getting sued or something. Don’t worry; I’m ignoring him.”

Emergency Services: “Just to be sure, I’ll dispatch the police in case he gets violent. He doesn’t sound… uh, sane.”

Me: “Thank you so much!” *ends call*

Guard: “Did they send an ambulance? We’re gonna get sued! We’ll counter sue YOU for everything you have! You’ll never be able to afford a house, you idiot!”

Me: “As I am not a representative of the library, he can’t sue the library, but would have to sue me, anyway. Actually, the only thing you could possibly get sued for to my knowledge is trying to prevent his life from being potentially saved. Of course, that’s only if you physically intervene.

(At this point, the man begins another, smaller, seizure. The guard keeps yelling and screaming as I struggle to cope with things and get the man back into the correct position after the seizure is over. To my disgust, the other patrons in the library are busy checking Facebook and the like, happily ignoring the seizure guy. Finally, the police and ambulance arrive at about the same time.)

Guard: “NO! NO HELP! WE’LL GET SUED! GO AWAY! EVERYTHING’S FINE!”

Ambulance Doctor: “We’ll ascertain that for ourselves. Now, where is the person who’s had a seizure?”

Guard: “No one’s had a seizure. Everyone’s fine here. You can go. Get lost!”

Me: “The young man is over here; ignore that idiot. He’s had two seizures and is unconscious, but his pulse and breathing are both good. There’s a lot of vomit and urine, though.”

(The ambulance doctor makes her way over and starts checking the seizure man.)

Police: “Wait, so you, sir, were actually trying to keep someone from getting life-saving medical care?”

Guard: “We’ll get sued!”

Police: “I think you’re going to have to come with me…”

(The good news? The seizure guy was fine in the end, and the guard was eventually fired due to him being given a criminal record (obstructing emergency services) and therefore no longer being eligible for many types of jobs, including the one he had. He won’t be able to pull the same stunt again!)

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