Mar 21, 2012



SAM_3152This is the sight that greeted me as I made my way to work. I had almost reached work when I noticed this gentleman in this position. He appeared to be in his early to mid twenties. At first I thought he was just stretching out his body, fascinated I took out my camera for a quick shot before he straightened up. He looked like he had no head. With my camera in hand I continued slowly on to work. As i walked on I turned back to see if he had straightened up but he didn’t seemed to be moving. A little concerned I stood still for a moment just to assure myself that everything was ok. Still no movement. I noticed people coming and going not giving him a second thought and I think. ‘Can you just walk away? Can you just judge what you see and determine that its alcoholism or drugs? What if its not? There are many illnesses that mimic the appearance of alcohol/drugs, what if something is really wrong with him, Can you live with the fact that you did nothing?” 

Paying closer attention looking for signs of movement I noticed there didn't appear to be any. It was one of the closest day for the winter season and i was cold standing there in that short time and he was in this position when i came. As I examined closer I noticed that his feet were not touching the ground, no part of his body seem to move and there was no significant rise and fall of his chest to indicate normal breathing. I moved closer and said, ‘HELLO! HELLO? ARE YOU OK?’ Nothing.

I moved in closer and again shouting even louder, (his head was just hanging there) “HELLO! HELLO! CAN YOU HEAR ME, PLEASE RESPOND!’SAM_3153 I got an incoherent gurgle and grunts, “aah, aaw, aah,’ as he attempted unsuccessfully to raise his head. Concerned I got even closer to his lift side without touching him paying close attention at his chest for breathing as I continued to talk to him. I saw a woman from my peripheral vision coming toward me on her cellphone. I called to her and asked, “Can you please call 911, I have been here and he is not responding very well. He has answered me but barely and he is not able to lift himself. She tried to come and move him and I told her, “no do not touch him, we don’t know how long he has been in that position and we do not want to do any damage. As she dialled 911. I continued to speak with him hoping at least the sound of my voice will keep him a little lucid. He gave me barely audible sounds. They were enough to assure me that he was alive. I could here the woman giving our location to the police, describing his article of clothing and explaining that he was semi-conscious but barely responding.

After about 10 minutes the Firefighters arrived. The recognized the young man and called him by name. While they attempted to make him more alert I  took that opportunity to phone my job to let them know I was in an emergency situation downstairs and would be up soon. One of the fire fighters turned to me and asked, “were you the one to stay with him and call 911?” i explained that I came across him lying there and didn’t want to walk away so I elicit the woman’s help (pointing to the woman that called 911) and asked her to call 911. He turned back to the young man and both he and his partner lifted the hanging part of his body and positioned him so he was lying fully on the side block. The called his name but he was answering barely as if under water. I asked the firefighters, “do you know him, is he going to be ok? What is wrong with him?” They explained that he does suffer from substance abuse. He is an alcoholic and sometimes consume Listerine, rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer if alcohol from the liquor store is too expensive. They are familiar with him. I asked, “you are not just going to leave him here are you?” One of the firefighters answered, “no, we are waiting for the ambulance to come and they will check his system to ensure he is alright and pump his stomach if necessary. He explained that they have to get him checked in the event he consumed hand sanitizer because due to its jelly liquid form it can sometimes clog up the passage way.


Never judge a situation and just walk away, many people have died due to rash judgments that prevented them from assisting someone even by calling 911 and eliciting people passing by to help until qualified help arrives. I did think that alcoholism might be the issue but I did want to make up my mind and walk away. I preferred to have help come, I lose a bit of time and the person is alright. I know its a scary world we live in and people are afraid to help and with good reason, at the same time, think if it were you, your child, mother, sister, brother, lover lying there and really needed help and no one stopped or even called 911.

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