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First Aid - did I do the right thing?

Updated on July 26, 2010
Donadini painting of sick person superimposed over a picture of justice with her arm holding scales of justice broken off
Donadini painting of sick person superimposed over a picture of justice with her arm holding scales of justice broken off

How would you act if this happened to YOU?

I was driving down the road the other day and a woman, obviously in distress, flagged me down. I slowed down and saw her waving an asthma puffer in the air. I realized she was having trouble breathing so stopped and wound down my window. She nodded as I asked "You need to go to hospital, right?"

As it happened, I was only minutes away from the local emergency ward so, in obviously a great deal of pain, she got in to my car and I raced down the road with hazard lights on.

I had one set of lights to get through before the hospital and luck was on our side because as I approached it, the light turned green.

She was in extreme distress, her body contorted and she was leaning over to the open window attempting to get air into her lungs. She was going, I could see she was going.

I kept talking to her, telling her it's OK, we're nearly there as if it could keep her from going under and finally I was driving into the ramp that leads to the double doors of the emergency ward.

But she had passed out. I drove down on the brakes, jumped out and was calling out to the hospital staff but it seemed everyone else was in another world; a world with different, slower tempo.

Not again, I thought.

No-one seemed to take me seriously. No-one seemed to jump out to help. No-one was rushing to her aid or at least it seemed no-one saw this as an emergency.

Were they all confused? I was wondering what the hell did it look like from their point of view.

I was wondering why all the apathy around me, do I look like I'm going for a Sunday picnic?

I had just arrived and in my head voices were screaming to save this woman who I knew was a mother, I just knew, I don't know what told me but I knew.

Her hands had turned blue and I was feeling for a pulse, and I was thinking, for God's sake, I'm right at the front entrance of an emergency ward, I'm trying to get people's attention and I'm doing what medical staffers, not me, are trained for so why isn't anyone here doing very much?

I kept thinking why the apathy.

Eventually, some serious faced, grey-haired guy wearing a white shirt and black trousers came out with a wheelchair.

Who is this I thought, he doesn't look like a doctor or nurse but he must be in the know because he's got a wheelchair.

Another guy, who I later learned was also just off the street and who had brought in a kid who'd shot himself with a nail gun, came over and helped me lift this unconscious and heavy woman into the wheelchair.

The older man struggled to hold the chair as we both struggled to lift her in.

She had totally passed out and it was awkward.

Then it was like a switch had been turned on and things began to move.

She was wheeled into the emergency department and I heard a call for resusitation over the loudspeakers.

Finally, she was getting the attention she needed.

I gave the nurse on duty her handbag and left my name and phone number.

After the commotion had died down and I had left the hospital I kept wondering if this woman would survive and if she didn't, I kept going through the drama in my head and asking myself if I could have done things better.

I thought I should have called the emergency number ahead of arriving or should I have because I was driving?

Perhaps, it would have been best to call an ambulance rather than rush her to hospital myself?

But that would have meant denying her the lift she so desperately demanded off ME!

I was literally minutes away from the hospital, anyway, and an ambulance would have taken longer to respond and get there than the time it took to drive to the emergency ward.

But still, what if I had had an accident on the way?

What would have happened then?

I didn't want to think of that, I am a safe driver and I had driven with my hazard lights on so other cars knew what was going on.

But what if she didn't make it?

Time ticked by and eventually I drove myself back to the hospital to face the outcome.

It was an hour or so later and I explained to the nurse on duty who I was and why I had come back.

Was she alright?

The nurse was positive. I was relieved. He said to me "Good on you, you did a great job. She is still in intensive care but no longer critical."

Her condition had stabilized. I was moderately relieved but I was still thinking, if she is in intensive care, there was still a chance she would not make it.

Then her son arrived and explained his mother was an asthmatic. He also thanked me.

Later that day, I got a call from her husband. He also thanked me.

Everything returned to a kind of serenity - like shoreline after a storm. Waves of calmness were now just lapping the sand.

Her family had thanked me so I felt relief.  

But a few days later, I related this to a person at work. Her response was - you could have been sued by her family if she had died.

It got me wondering, my intention to help someone, ending in a court case. What a thought, but could this really have been an outcome and how would I act next time? What kind of world should I assume?

One in which actions are seen for their intentions or, if the outcome had been different, kind actions interpreted as negligent and a person who in error thinks they have acted competently?

Does the fact, the woman initiated my repsonse make it OK that I did what I did because I was acting on her request or should I have said I'll call an ambulance and just stayed with her?

What do my fellow hubbers think?


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    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Thanks so much LadyE, really do appreciate.

    • Lady_E profile image


      8 years ago from London, UK

      You certainly did the right thing. You went with your heart and many times in those circumstances, the heart never thinks of a "court case". The heart thinks "How can I save this person?"

      Well done - you Angel in Disguise. :)

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      So eloquently put, thank-you valeriebelew for sharing here.

    • valeriebelew profile image


      8 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      I don't know about the law suit risk, as it seems it is always there, but from a moral perspective, you definitely did the right thing. We can't go through life being unresponsive due to the possibility of getting sued, though I'm sure many do. I am personally tired of seeing money always take a higher priority than the quality of human life. So few people actually live happy lives, because they are either obsessed with making money or too concerned over the risk of losing it. All I really care about is having enough to live comfortably, and at present anyone who tried to sue me would be wasting time, as there is very little money for them to take. (:v

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Thank-you for such a supportive response Kaltopsyd

    • kaltopsyd profile image


      8 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      You most certainly did the right thing. What a good Samaritan you are! Hooray for you. I'm glad the woman is alright! Thanks for sharing!

    • Shadesbreath profile image


      8 years ago from California

      They're too afraid to get their adrenaline up and really feel life. Besides, they might be late getting home and miss the first ten minutes of American Idol. :D

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Thank-you for taking the time to make such a considered response. Just for the record, Shadesbreath, the woman is out of hospital now. She invited me around and couldn't remember much of what happened except she did mention 3 cars went past without stopping for her. But like you say people are living scared much of the time - what a pity - people are missing out on so much life living like that.

    • Shadesbreath profile image


      8 years ago from California

      You totally did the right thing. First, I think there are good Samaritan laws that cover you for stuff like that if it did go bad. And the comments above are spot on. You did what you would have wanted done, what anyone would have wanted done. I think a lot of people have that apathy you're talking about... or if not apathy, that fear of getting involved in case they get in trouble. But I think that getting in trouble thing is an excuse for really just the apathy and/or a cover for the guilt they feel for not doing what is scary but in their heart they know is right.

      I stopped to help this dude who started having a seizure in traffic a couple of months back (nothing as scary or life threatenign as what you did... but still, pretty high adrenaline for a while until the cops and ambulance and stuff came). When everything was cool and the ambulance team was helping the dude out, I asked the cop if it was okay for me to head out. He said yeah, but he gave me this eye-to-eye look, straight on and said, "Thanks for stopping. Seriously." The way he said it, the way he looked at me, really made me feel like they run into a lot of situations where no one did, or by the time someone did, it was too late... probably like after fifty other people passed right on by.

      Great hub, and super well written. This narrative really flows, totally energy charged and everything. Seriously good stuff.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      I feel really touched and justified in my actions by your comment bayareagreatthing since I respect you and know your heart is in the right place. Thank-you.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image


      8 years ago from Bay Area California

      P-dog- If I had been that woman, I would pray to God someone like you would come along and do exactly what you did. In emergency situations, time is critical. If you had delayed, she may have died. In the US we have the Good Samaritan Law that protects people who are trying to help. While I am not an attorney, my guess is Australia may have something similar. Great story and thank you for being such a brave hero!!

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      Thankyou Deborah,

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      8 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I think you did exactly the right thing. It is a sad indictment on society at large, that people feel they need to sue every time something goes wrong. sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes people die. You don't have to make someone wrong, to assuage your grief. Grieve and move on.

      I am glad your lady lived, and I hope you continue to be a good samaritan.


    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      billyaustindillon, I agree with you and like you I also wonder what society thinks like that. It wasn't that long ago that making this a legal issue, a thought like that, was unthinkable but perhaps the world is changing - I don't want to say for the worse but it makes me realize we need to protect certain values.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree you did the right thing - you probably saved her life and her family are grateful. It is inditement the apathy and self serving with most people and the answer about being sued made me so made - what society even thinks like that. I know what do need is more people like you psychic dog.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      8 years ago

      I thought not to pre-empt discussion and see if others will consider comments but thanks for the contribution. If the situation was reversed I would indeed be grateful someone had stopped to take me to hospital and if he/or she crashed I'd probably think well my time was up, and besides an ambulance could crash too but I wonder if statistically they have less chance of an accident...or more...the latter would be a bit of a worry if it were true but I haven't found this stat yet.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      You did the right thing. Look at it this way: how would you want to be treated if the situation was reversed? It's too easy to look back and think "what if". Congratulations to you on making a quick decision and saving her life.


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