14 Sep 2012

Friday Utterance - Helping

If you can help, do so.

Evaluate what you can do and be honest about your limits. The first thing they tell you to do in First Aid is stop and look. You don’t want to make it worse.

In a time of emergency, follow these three rules.

1. Lead, follow or get out the way.
2. Move with purpose but under control.
3. Remember why you are helping

The first rule is simple. Take over, take instruction or take a hike. Do not fight over who’s in charge. In the case of First Aid the person who first responded to the casualty is the person in charge unless they give it up, to the paramedics or a person who has volunteered to take over (off duty nurse, medical doctor, firefighter, or lifeguard).

In some cases, on duty persons immediately take control; like an on duty Police Officer providing security at an event. In this case, you have the other two choices; follow or fuck off.

When you follow allow the person to take positive control and then follow their direction. Unless your suggestion takes priority over helping (see below), give it one a side bar when there is time. Good leaders know when to follow and better leaders know when to get out of the way.

Getting out of the way is simple, step away and give space.

If a family is hurt or a close friend is in danger leaping in will only get two people caught up in the issue. Take a breath, stop and focus on what needs to get done and how to go about doing it. You can always make it worse so make sure you know how to help before you start. It’s a simple exercise that supports the second rule.

You need to act quickly, time is non renewable and in many emergencies it is a factor between getting better and getting worse. The caveat is keeping under control. Driving someone to the emergency at a high speed is ok, but if you cause another accident because you lost control of your car you’re more of a danger to everyone else and you are no longer helping and made it worse.

The last rule is easy to forget. When helping, don’t argue unless it has priority over the aid being given. This is the second time I’ve said this. If the person in charge has made a decision to do something that will cause the emergency to get worse you have to notify the leader, failing that everyone else, failing that get out of the way. It’s not what you can do to help, it’s what needs to be done to help. Take yourself out of the equation; there are already too many factors in the math.


There is a car is on fire, there is a person inside. The leader has told the group or aid providers to pull the person out. You notice the leaking gas from under the car. You tell the leader the problem. The leader will do one of two things; Continue or Stop. If the leader continues and the aiders carry on you give the group a warning and step away.

- If they rescue the person all is well, your warnings made have saved them all, you were a help they may have sped up their efforts to pull out the person or hurried away from the vehicle under speed to avoid possible explosion. In the end, the reason you were helping was not forgotten.  

- If they fail because the gas tank exploded, the group providing aid now needs aid. You are the first person to respond, you are now in charge. This is the worst option but hopefully you can now help out and help the rest.

I get angry when people freak out in an emergency. It gets worse when they fight you when you’re helping. They don’t realise they are have become another issue of the problem. The same applies to a sports team to a pitt crew. Close knit teams, EMT’s and Military know how to work together. Part of the team building is to avoid the problems from ignoring the three rules I’ve mentioned above.

If you are screaming, get out of the way. Leave the room and let the others help. Take other screaming people with you. Crowding the area with panic does not solve the issue.

If you can help, do so.

I hope some people have a better idea on how they can help.