What would you be like in a crisis? Some people crumple under pressure, others go way beyond the call of duty while trying to help resolve things.
Let’s take an example. Imagine you’re on a train. It’s late at night. A fellow passenger takes seriously ill – potentially very dangerously ill, to the extent that an ambulance is called and the train pulls up at a station to await it.
Let’s embellish this imaginary scenario a bit. Would you be calm? Maybe you’d be the young man who would phone for an ambulance, calmly relaying details and generally being incredibly helpful to the patient’s family.
Maybe you’re a couple of off duty paramedics, returning from a night out who head to the other end of the train to help out. The other passengers and the patient’s family would be so impressed with your professionalism, your understanding of the situation, the way you unintrusively took charge, your reassuring manner as you explained to them what was happening, how you phoned ambulance control to find out what was keeping them. That family would be forever grateful to you for the way you helped and you would clearly have shown yourself to be a credit to your profession.
Maybe you’re one of the relatives of the sick person, slightly frozen with shock, a bit clueless but able to take instructions from others and carry them out, albeit in a bit of a daze.
Or maybe you’re the ignorant eejit in the carriage who clearly thinks that this poor person has done this deliberately to inconvenience them. You complain loudly about the door being open because you’re cold – never mind that there are several other carriages you could move to. The doors might be being kept open to provide fresh air to a barely conscious person, but, no, it all has to be about you, doesn’t it? And then, when the ambulance finally arrives, as the person is being taken off the train, you tut away, making it obvious how annoyed you are with the situation.
You know what? Actually, you’ve probably guessed by now. This isn’t imaginary at all. It actually happened on a train recently. I saw it with my own eyes. While I was truly inspired by the wonderful help those people received, I was utterly horrified by the behaviour of this man. It wasn’t the time to sit him down and ask him why he behaved like that, why he would want to add to people’s ordeal. I’d like to know now, though. Okay, he was going to get home a bit later but that’s nothing compared to the shock and inconvenience suffered by others. I’d like to ask him how he’d have felt if it had been one of his relatives who’d taken ill and someone had behaved like he did. Or maybe one day, it’ll be him who’s the vulnerable one in need.
Even many hours on, I’m still getting angry thinking about how that guy behaved. Thankfully, it seemed that the patient would be fine and there’s no permanent harm done, but it must take a really malevolent spirit to be so awful to people at one of the worst times in their lives.