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Would You Administer CPR to a Homeless Person? -- Plus New Guidelines on How to Give CPR

Updated on March 18, 2021
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Ms. Clark hopes to help bring better understanding and an end to hurtful, downright wrong stereotypes about poverty and homelessness.

A Little Known Fact

"Homeless [people are the] leading target of hate crimes."

Tim Bates, Commander of the Detective Division of the Rome, New York Police Department.

Hungry and homeless
Hungry and homeless | Source

2 Unfortunate Facts

“For every age group, homeless people are three times more likely to die [before their time] than the general population. Middle-aged homeless men and young homeless women are at particularly increased risk.”

National Health Care for the Homeless Council


“For those sleeping under freeways and in back alleys, the threat of violence is nearly constant.

Over the last year, homeless people have been beaten and urinated on in Boston, shot at random in Seattle, tortured and dumped in a lake in San Francisco, and otherwise attacked in cities all over the country.”

Ian Lovett — The New York Times — July 15, 2016

Would YOU Give CPR to a Homeless Person?

The inspiration for this article came about when I was sitting in a fast food restaurant that is part of a well known national chain, here in my hometown. I was having a snack and watching political commentary on one of the restaurant’s big screen TVs when three men wearing uniforms representing a national energy company came into the restaurant, straggling in one at a time. One appeared to be mid 40s, one mid 50s, and the oldest one seemed close to retirement age. The two older men were tall and large bodied with pure white hair. The youngest one was of average height and stocky with brown hair.

The men ordered and received their food and then sat down at a table about six feet away from me. After a few minutes when I looked in their direction, the youngest one was reading a list out loud to the other two that I heard him say was located on Facebook. It was a list of questions, along with answers he said his wife had provided. I didn’t pay much attention to the men beyond noticing their presence and sort of what they seemed to be doing. I continued to watch the political news report and eat my snack. I didn’t listen to the questions the men were reviewing.

Then all at once a voice was raised and there seemed to be a disagreement between the men. I looked their way when I heard what sounded like a very angry, loud voice.

The younger man was yelling, “That’s a lie! She’s lying! She would never do a thing like that! Never!” The older men were responding in quiet voices and I couldn’t make out their words, but judging from the younger man’s response, they were not in agreement with him. Then the younger man read the question out loud that seemed to be causing the disagreement. “Would you give CPR to a homeless person, and she [meaning his wife] said YES! By God, she sure never would! And if she ever did she would never kiss me again!!”

The older men tried to calm the situation, and the younger one quieted down somewhat as they continued to discuss that issue for a bit longer. The younger of the three remained upset, very animated, and louder than the others.

I wondered how the angry man would know if the person who needed CPR was homeless. I was itching to ask him that and other questions, like would he let a homeless veteran die for need of CPR? A man who had possibly risked his life so this man who hates homeless people could sit comfortably in a fast food restaurant whenever he wished and hate homeless people loudly for all to hear? But in the end I didn’t want to escalate the situation, so I didn’t ask anything.

The homeless people I know, and I know a lot of them, blend in with everybody else for the most part. They behave the same, dress the same, and seem to be of average, and sometimes above, intelligence. They do not stand out among other people or appear especially different in any way. They do not fit the stereotypes that the majority of people in this country cling to and seem to hold dear. Most of the homeless people I am acquainted with are not drunkards, not high, not ‘crazy in their behaviors,’ and they do not smell, or wear dirty clothes.

In the end, I didn’t stop and say anything to the men as I was leaving. It has been my experience that people who are extremely passionate about anything related to hate cannot hear, and their brains cannot process. They do not want to hear anything that doesn’t agree with what they have decided to believe, or that in any way questions the validity of their hate.

Even if I succeeded in getting the new procedures across to the angry younger man, it would likely have led to some discussion relating to homeless people and possibly caused disruption in the restaurant. The people who work in that restaurant have always been very good to me and I didn’t want to cause problems for them.

How Do You Know if Someone Is Homeless?

Since overhearing that conversation between the men from the energy company, I have thought a lot about what the angry younger man said relating to homeless people. Clearly he has a misguided and mistaken stereotype in his mind about homeless people. He likely passes them often, if not everyday, as he goes about his life, and never even realizes it. I know for a certainty that there was at least one homeless person known to me, within close proximity to this man in the restaurant that day he was so upset, and he didn’t even know it!

Update on CPR

Clearly the man who so hated homeless people that he wouldn’t dream of saving one of their lives, much less allow his wife to kiss him if she tried to save one of their lives, was not up to date on CPR. Mouth-to-mouth recitation is no longer the recommended or preferred method for adults or for children over 8 years old (except in special circumstances), however, devices to prevent physical contact if one chooses to do mouth-to-mouth CPR are available.

I received CPR training from certified trainers through my employer in the fall of 2014. I have had the training three times before. Twice when I was still in elementary school, and again later in high school

There have been many changes from what I learned years ago in public school. One thing that was emphasized in my recent training is that babies and young children up to age 8 do best with a different procedure than is used for adults. We were trained on that procedure since my job entailed helping to transport children 2-8 years old.

Chest compressions are the main procedure for adults today, and mouth-to-mouth is acceptable, but not required. I considered stopping at the men’s table as I was leaving, to explain that to the angry man who hates homeless people. Hates them so much, and so profoundly, that he would not deign to interfere if he encountered a homeless person who was choking, or who had fallen and become unconscious as a result.

They will instruct about chest compressions if you don't already know how to do them.

Your Opinion Please

Would you be willing to perform CPR on a homeless person?

See results

Not all homeless people are easy to identify like this one.

Homeless veteran in New Orleans, May 2016
Homeless veteran in New Orleans, May 2016 | Source

The Number of Homeless People In the Richest Nation on Earth Is Greatly Underestimated

One reason I believe the reported number of homeless people in this country is far underestimated is the method that is used to count them. Every once in a while some government agency, either city, county, state, or federal, decides to go out and count all the people who are homeless for the purpose of allotting resources to deal with their situations. Officials go to places where they expect to find homeless people and count those people who ‘look’ homeless to them. As you can tell, it’s a very scientific procedure and great pains are taken to be exacting. For those people challenged in sarcasm, my last sentence is meant to be facetious.

Fewer than 20 percent of all homeless people fit the stereotype many, if not most people, imagine homeless people to resemble. Fewer than 20 percent of all homeless people fit the category of people who cannot function in society because of substance addiction or mental disorders. Most (not all) homeless people nowadays have access to showers including soap and shampoo.

Lots of people are in frequent or daily contact with homeless people and do not even know it because most homeless people do not fit the stereotype that so many people seem to hold dear in their own minds. Most people I have encountered, and even other writers on HubPages, refuse to even consider that they might be wrong in their opinion of homeless people. The stereotype they hold onto with all of their might is for the most part WRONG.

Discrimination Against the Homeless Is Common and Extensive

Many homeless people will take care not to let anyone know they are homeless lest they endanger their own lives by that admission, as some people find it to be great fun to pour gasoline on homeless people and then light them up. Others have a more hands on approach and prefer to beat homeless people, usually to death, with whatever instrument that is available. A tire iron, a fireplace iron, a golf club, a baseball bat, a brick . . .

The discrimination against homeless people in the U.S. is staggering in it’s frequency, intensity, and cruelty. People fall on hard times through bad luck for a variety of reasons, and suddenly they are ostracized by every single friend they had, and not one of their family members will speak to them, much less offer any sort of help.

How are people who become homeless supposed to dig their way out if no one will speak to them? When no one will even consider them for a job? When they have nothing? Nowhere to go, and no one to turn to? Why does hitting a rough spot in life or falling on bad luck deserve this sort of treatment?

In this richest nation on earth, the nation some say is built on Christian principles and values, many cities turn poor people into criminals by passing laws that make standing, sitting, or lying on the ground, as well as eating and drinking outside in public, illegal. For poor people in some parts of this so-called Christian nation, sleeping in a car or wrapping oneself in a blanket or other protection is also illegal. I have written about these ignorant laws in my other articles on the subject of poverty and homelessness.

How is a person supposed to help themselves? How is a person to even survive if they cannot do any of these things that most people do without even thinking about it? Things that most people take for granted, but that are against the law for homeless people to do. Standing, sitting, wearing a coat, eating, etc. It is also illegal in many U.S. cities to give assistance in the way of money, food, or blankets/coats, etc., to homeless people.

If you were to become homeless you best think about what you are doing lest you end up in jail with a criminal record, all of your possessions taken from you and destroyed. There is no education like the education of being homeless — and it’s free. People who do everything in their power to make the lives of homeless people even more difficult and downright miserable deserve this free education in my humble opinion. Make me God for just a few seconds . . .

If you are able to breath (meaning you are alive), there is always the possibility that you will find yourself in this unfortunate circumstance. Things you could have never imagined can happen and cause you to be penniless in the blink of an eye. But for the benefit of God’s mercy, any person can find themselves in extremely harsh circumstances just like the people they themselves love to hate. Yes, many people love to hate certain people who happened to be different from themselves for merely existing. Have you ever heard such profound logic before? And it’s practiced as often by self-described Christians as by anyone else.

There are all kinds of rationales that people use to justify hating other people that they do not even know. People hate others because of their color, their sexual orientation,their ethnicity, and most of all, because they are poor. For many people it is a double or triple whammy, because they are both homosexual and poor, homosexual, poor, and black or brown — the combinations for what many people believe are acceptable excuses for hating people are plentiful.

If you have ever wondered if someone is truly your friend or just hanging around hoping to benefit from what you have or who you are, becoming homeless will definitely answer that question, and quickly.

Who with the ability to think cannot see the evil in the passage of laws against doing what everyone must do to stay alive? But only against the law if you are homeless or desperately poor. Sleeping, moving about, eating, etc. It would seem that dying is the only thing that isn’t forbidden and fined. Perhaps that is because the “better people” in this world want to encourage poor homeless people to die, and so it is the only activity left to them that is not breaking the law?

Crimes Against Homeless People are Considered Hate Crimes

“Alaska, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington have committed to qualifying assaults against the homeless as hate crimes . . .

In 2010, Florida declared attacks against homeless people as hate crimes, which come with heavier sentencing. [Example] A second-degree felony, for example, gets bumped to a first-degree felony, with the maximum prison sentence increased from 15 to 30 years [when it is determined to be a hate crime] . . . ,” (Eleanor Goldberg, HuffPost Impact, Huffington Post August 29,, 2014).

Many people seem to think the label ‘hate crime’ is nothing more than a label and are not aware that hate crimes include much harsher charges as well as heavier sentencing of people who commit such crimes.

What Is a Hate Crime?

The definition of a hate crime as put forth by the Psychology and Counseling Department of the El Paso Community College: Current federal law defines hate crimes as any felony or crime of violence that manifests prejudice based on “race, color, religion, or national origin” (18 U.S.C. §245). Hate crimes can be understood as criminal conduct motivated in whole or in part by a negative opinion or attitude toward a group of persons. Hate crimes involve a specific aspect of the victim’s identity (e.g., race). Hate crimes are not simply biases, they are dangerous actions motivated by biases (e.g., cross burnings, physical assault).

How Many Homeless People Are Injured or Killed Every Year in the United States due to Unbridled Hatred?

The reporting of hate crimes is piecemeal all across this country. For some reason police departments on city, county, and even state levels, do not report even close to all of the hate crimes they investigate regardless of who the victims of those crimes are or what kind of hate was involved.

Even in states where crimes against homeless people are now considered hate crimes (they’re working on making them hate crimes in all states), they are still often not reported — like all hate crimes against other groups are not always reported. Because crimes against homeless people are often never reported by the various law enforcement agencies, an exact count of how many violent crimes (including murder) are carried out against homeless people in the United States is not known at this time. It is accepted truth that the number recorded does not begin to include all.

At least 501 homeless people died in Sacramento County California between June 2002 and June 2013. Only 26% of the deaths were deemed alcohol/drug related — not that deaths of people in need of help to kick their habit is acceptable. There is no record of how many of these deaths were the result of hate crimes. 38% of the deaths occurred outdoors and were about evenly spread over all 4 seasons (The Sacramento Bee).

Keep in mind that at least 46 homeless people died every year just in Sacramento County California alone, during the years stipulated, because they were homeless. Multiply those 46 deaths by the number of counties across this country and adjust for each county’s demographics. The number of people dying every year in this richest nation on earth, merely because they are poor, is shocking if you think about it.

What kind of Society Leaves Their Handicapped to Fend for Themselves In the Streets?

Homeless disabled man sleeping on the street in New York City, 041414.
Homeless disabled man sleeping on the street in New York City, 041414. | Source

Many People Are Closer Than They Think to Becoming Homeless

'1 out of 3 people working today are one or two missed paychecks away from being homeless, especially the 37 million people currently living in poverty.'

The Suitcase Clinic nonprofit organization for the homeless

Most People Seem to Think Homelessness Could Never Happen to Them

I have written previously about how more people die every year from poverty than from cancer or heart disease, the two biggest killers of humans right behind poverty. Yet people fear heart disease and cancer, but give no thought to poverty. That’s probably one reason so many people are surprised when they unexpectedly find themselves living in poverty. They thought it couldn’t happen to them!

Have you ever noticed how a lot of people think car accidents and cancer happen to other people, and don’t seem to believe it could happen to themselves? Homelessness and poverty are the same. No one seems to think it can happen to them. Maybe you, dear reader are one of those people. What a shock it will be for you if it does ever happen to you. That’s when you will find out too late, that you have no voice. At least no voice anyone cares to listen to. No voice anyone will in fact listen to. You could have been Einstein yesterday, but today you are homeless and therefore a worthless, useless waste of skin and space that most people find disgusting.

A lot of people used to sneer and look down on cancer and heart disease victims too, so maybe once people understand that poverty is a disease and can happen to anyone, they will have a better attitude towards homeless people. Perhaps more safety nets will be made available and more help offered for people to get back on their feet when people discover that no matter who they are, they are susceptible to poverty. But that will take a long time, and people in crisis need help now.

Now is the time to speak up for fair and respectful treatment of poor and homeless people. Now, before you become homeless yourself. Once you are living in poverty no one will care what you have to say. No one will listen to what you have to say.

Join with people who want to improve, and ideally end homelessness permanently, while you still have a voice. Perhaps with everyone pitching in together to end homelessness and stop the stigmatizing of homelessness, no one will ever have to fear falling into that unfortunate circumstance in this country ever again!

Some People Cannot Accept Facts and Insist On Making Up Their Own

I know some people will never accept that all homeless people are not alcoholics and junkies and or suffering from mental disorders. I know that some people will always justify deaths of homeless people by imagining in their own minds that homeless people are disposable and without any value or redeeming qualities.

Even so, I will continue to point out that fewer than a fifth of all homeless people have substance abuse or mental issues, and that even their lives have value. Maybe with time and life experience these heartless people who look down on poor people will come to realize their insistence on demonizing and dehumanizing homeless people is just a tactic of their own mind to avoid helping others truly in need.

Please watch the following video. It’s only 3 and a half minutes long and very informative. It shows how readily people of average and above intelligence are beyond willing to help someone who is not poor, someone like Donald Trump, but unwilling to do anything for a homeless person.

Yes, the following video depicts first hand how people willingly and happily give money, sometimes even more than was asked for, to someone who is reasonably well off, but sneer, and even verbally denigrate truly poor people who need their help. Perhaps this will help some people understand how truly messed up their values are.

Experiment showing who people are willing to help and who they are not. About 3.5 minutes. Worth your time to watch.

More people than you might think have good educations, yet end up homeless.

San Francisco Mayor Marginalizes Homeless People

In February, software developer Justin Keller wrote to Lee [Ed Lee, mayor of San Francisco] complaining that he “shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people.”

“The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city,” he said in an open letter that went viral to widespread criticism. “They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted,” (Michael E. Miller, The Washington Post, June 8, 2016).

Many homeless people have good educations. Many have previously held responsible jobs and paid mortgages in middle class neighborhoods. Many homeless people currently have jobs that do not provide enough to pay the skyrocketing rent that so many communities are now experiencing.

This is not to say that all homeless people are angels. I know homeless people who are in my opinion extremely wasteful. They spend the little money they get on tobacco products, soda pop, coffee, and even expensive video games and other things that most of us wouldn’t consider necessities in a crisis situation. They are the minority.

I really think people who are rejected over and over again by everyone, family, friends, employers, and more, forget how to be practical and how to take care of themselves. Indeed, managing day-to-day life, let alone emergencies, as a homeless person, is no task for the faint of heart. It is even believed that some people become mentally ill as a result of living in the streets.

Imagine most, if not every single person you thought was your friend turning their backs on you. Imagine your family turning their backs on you. Imagine employers refusing to even consider hiring you to do anything. That is sadly more often than not the situation most homeless people live with every day.

A homeless friend reported to me just two days ago, that he was in a church and a woman there informed another person present to stay away from my friend because he was homeless. Imagine if she had encountered Jesus in her church wearing sandals and long hair and carrying a backpack! Can’t you just hear her say about Jesus, “Stay away from that disgusting homeless man over there. Hope he leaves soon!”

It’s so easy to criticize people who can’t fight back. People who have no access to justice. People who are attacked and killed more often than any other group simply because they are poor. Yes, killed by police even more often than African Americans, for no reason at all except that killers can apparently get away with killing homeless people even as they kill rats with no accountability. Sometimes the homeless person killed without repercussions for the killer is both homeless and African American.

Becoming known to police as a homeless person is even more dangerous in our society than being black. Suddenly you become an acceptable target not only for cops, but all kinds of people who imagine themselves somehow superior. There is no end to the reports of attacks on homeless people and of their murders.

I invite you to read about a few deplorable situations homeless people have found themselves in because they were homeless, which should be bad enough without government and the general public piling on.

It Is Against the Law to Be Homeless or To Help Homeless People In the USA! The Meanest Cities In the United States

I highly recommend the sources listed below also.

Sources in no particular order

Huffington Post — Attacking a homeless person is a hate crime.

Star Tribune on police reporting of hate crimes.

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

Think Progress Organization on hate crimes against homeless people

Rome Sentinal!Ld0jwSRrTLrQfGRbRYKkg/

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Washington Post

Suitcase Clinic Organization

The New York Times

The Sacramento Bee

New York Times — growing murders of homeless people


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