Recently a killer blizzard struck the eastern part of our nation. The stories of heroism, survival and human kindness make me proud of mankind. Time after time motorists stopped to lend a helping hand to someone who was stranded. Some towed another out of a snow-filled ditch. Others left hot coffee and sandwiches for complete strangers while they waited for the roads to clear.
Then there are the stories of tragic consequence as a result of insane behavior. According to Fox News, a 26 year old man stopped to help another man whose car had spun off the road and into the ditch in the midst of the storm. As the Good Samaritan approached the stricken vehicle and offered assistance, the driver became belligerent and ultimately pulled a gun and shot and killed the Samaritan.
No, I will not allow this report to deter me from stopping to help someone in distress. I realize this is an extreme, isolated case and most folks are more than happy to receive assistance.
The news report goes on to say that the person who had lost control was under the influence of alcohol and by the time the S.W.A.T. team arrived, they found him passed out. He is now facing a murder charge. This is a situation all too familiar to police officers and EMS personnel. When contact is made, the first responders never know if the person is high on drugs or booze or just having a bad day. Possibly the person just had a serious battle with his spouse and is in a dangerously precarious state of mind. The police are trained and equipped to handle these guys so they don’t back away..
My advice: If you stop to render assistance and the victim doesn’t seem “quite right.” Back away, and call the professionals. They may take a while to get there, but at least you’ll be alive to tell the story to your kids when you get home.
When there is a disaster, whether a snow storm, hurricane, tornado or earthquake, there will always be victims and heroes. The victim is trapped under debris or in a ditch, while the hero is there for the rescue. Victims are usually dealing with a huge fear factor and every first responder and ER nurse will tell you, “scared people behave badly.” Disasters bring out the worst AND best in people. The tragedy is compounded when the hero is injured or killed trying to help someone.
We all need help from time to time and even more so when there’s a disaster. There is a need to pull together and lend a helping hand. There are always risks involved, listen to your gut, if it tells you something doesn’t feel right or something’s wrong, back off.
As always, send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com. Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us.”