Yesterday I witnessed first hand just how close someone came to death. I was going about my weekly shop in a different supermarket to the one I usually visit, when a very young girl tugged at my coat and in a very calm way asked me to please help her Nan. I looked at the girl and then saw a lady slumped over the chiller cabinets, grasping at the trolley and fighting to stay upright. I dropped my handbag and without a thought rushed to try to slow the fall of the lady who was now sliding towards the ground at an alarming speed. I had no chance to break her fall as she was a large lady but somehow the trolley wedged against the freezer units and she slid between the legs of the trolley to the floor. She was now fitting violently, all I could think to do was to support her head to prevent it hitting the stone floor, talking to her as calmly as I could hoping that she may know that someone was at her side. I shouted towards the people still shopping, oblivious to the situation, called for help, but people simply turned and watched on, some even turning away. I raised my voice in frustration and a note of anger and shouted again for someone to assist and call for help, whilst trying to assure the young girl that her Nan would be ok, I had no idea whether the lady would be ok, but the words just came. I asked the girl what her nan’s name was, Linda she replied. The fitting slowed and her breathing sounded like a freight train, I was simply glad that she was breathing, another lady came to my assistance and then the Manager of the supermarket arrived with a pillow and blankets. Within 5 minutes a paramedic arrived, we stood back, allowing him to do his work, the lady still unresponsive. Watching that paramedic work with such precision and speed reassured me that she was now in good hands, skilled hands, unlike my basic attempt to help, but after several minutes the lady was still unresponsive and the mood changed. The little girl was now understandably distraught, the staff keen to move her away and protect her from the scene. Onlookers gathered hoping for a view like some kind of ghoulish entertainment but the staff had used the blanket to screen her off, protecting her dignity. A second ambulance team arrived and she was placed on to the stretcher and rushed to the awaiting ambulance. The Manager thanked us for our help, took our details and we returned to our shopping, however it felt somewhat surreal to be choosing items having just been through what seemed like a near death experience for that lady. My first thought on waking this morning was for Linda, a lady who I did not know and will never in all probability meet again, a lady for who at that moment I was able to help in some small way and I dearly hope that she is recovering as I write this. I can still see that little girls eyes, pleading for help. That encounter would never have happened for me if I had gone to my usual supermarket, in some respects it feels like fate, maybe I was meant to be at that place at that moment specifically to help that lady, who knows, but I am glad that I was there. That encounter has also served to show me something else, something worrying, the fact that when I called out for help no one came, some even turned their backs and walked away. What has British society come to? When people can turn their backs and walk away? Is it fear that prevents a person from helping another in need, is it ignorance, or is it a deeper coldness that is running through our society, giving us the ability to turn a blind eye and feel no sense of guilt or shame in doing so? What if that person had been me or you? The least you would hope is that some other person came to your assistance….. or is that no longer the case?
Today I feel angry, I feel as though I want to do something, but what can I do? What makes one person help and another turn away, I cant answer that question and I feel useless, powerless to address it. I guess it shows that all people are different, how one person behaves will be the exact opposite of another, we may not understand why we behave the way we do, we are propelled by something that makes us act in a certain way and we must accept that we are all different. But what we can change we must, what is in our power to do must be done, our own fears and agendas put aside for the greater good. What we must all never forget is that we are only here for the time that is granted to us, what we do with it is down to us, for we are all mortal.