Bystanders Rescue the Rescuers
Help comes to communities who offer it to one another.
Like London, Ontario, parts of Scotland are experiencing record-setting snowfalls. Hundreds of highway motorists have had to spend the evening in their vehicles as temperatures dropped to -20°C. Scottish Transport Secretary Stewart Stevenson called it “a perfect storm” of snow and freezing temperatures that caught the government unawares and threw much of Scotland’s infrastructure into chaos.
In North Lanarkshire, the situation turned from serious to desperate for a man with appendicitis when the ambulance that came to take him to hospital got mired at the bottom of a hill in front of his house.
As the paramedics laboured to get themselves and their patient underway, neighbours seeing the struggling crew emerged from their homes armed with shovels, sand and even carpet remnants to help get the ambulance moving. For an hour, eight neighbours and the paramedic crew battled to push the 6000-lb. rig uphill until it could meet with a tractor, sand truck and a 4×4 ambulance to continue the journey.
Paramedics, police and firefighters are highly trained professionals with specialized gear designed to help people in an emergency. But for all of their skills and equipment, they are few when compared to the public whom are many. In a lot of ways the biggest factor in mitigating a public crisis will be the strength of our communities. If you should call out for help, who will be closest to hand: your neighbour or the fire department? If response systems are overloaded or incapacitated, will we be prepared with the knowledge and the wherewithal to pitch in and help –and conversely stay out of the way– when needed?