Thursday, 2 October 2014

What's wrong with people?

Spoiler Alert - We had a great holiday!

A couple of weeks ago the family and I were on holiday out Great Yarmouth way, heading for a day boating on the river. Both kids were in the back of the car, one asleep (3 months old) and the other gagging to get on to the boat (2 years old).

We were travelling along the A149, a fairly unremarkable road, not overly busy. Up ahead there was a triangle junction on my left, with about five or six cars between it and me in front of me. There were a handful of cars, maybe four or five at the junction waiting to merge onto the A149.

Boom, a small Toyota (or similar make) was shunted from behind by a small grey (not brown!) car that had not seen the car in front yield for traffic. The blue car was forced into the road and managed to roll to a stop, half on-half off the road in a junction that immediately followed the junction they had been pushed out of.

Now, like I said, there were five or six cars in front of me that SAW the accident and carried on (I saw/heard it from a way off, so they would have). There were another four or five cars BEHIND the grey car that just carried on their way, having to pull out around the grey car to continue on.

NO ONE STOPPED!

We had to drive past them as we couldn't pull in at that point, but turned around about 100 meters down the road and came back to help.

STILL NO ONE HAD STOPPED

The two cars were in the main carriageway more or less, in between two junctions and cars were going around them and not even slowing down. We'd seen that the lady in the blue car was slumped over her steering wheel and made a beeline to get to her and the woman from the grey car as quickly as possible. I pulled through the still incoming traffic and put our car up on the verge well away from the main road.

STILL NO ONE WAS STOPPING

The front of the grey car was a mess, the rear of the blue car was a mess. I suspect there had been about three to four minutes between the collision and us getting to a safe place to assist. Not a SINGLE person had stopped or attempted to help. That's dozens of cars driving past thinking "I've not got time to do this" or "I don't know what to do".

The collision probably didn't happen at more than 15-20 mph but the cars' bodywork did their job and deformed beautifully. The lady in the grey car was up and about but extremely shaken. She'd gotten out into traffic in a bit of a daze and gone to the other car and back again. I dealt with her, my wife dealt with the woman in the blue car.

First job was to get (lets call her Mary) out of the grey car, put her hazards on (she was so shaken she couldn't remember how), and to a safe place away from the traffic. She gave me her phone and I spoke to her son, who was about thirty minutes away, explained the situation and told him that his mum was uninjured (nothing serious I could determine at this point) but very shaken and upset. I sat her in the front of our car so she could take stock and be out of harms way. He would be there as soon as he could.

STILL NO ONE STOPPING TO HELP

My wife called the emergency services, as the woman in the front car was complaining that her back was painful and her neck was sore. She made sure (lets call her Julie) stayed still and didn't move, as she was mostly out of the line of oncoming traffic, she was in a less precarious position than Mary was. We needed Police assistance anyway as traffic was becoming a problem.

As my wife was on the phone calling the incident in, a Police car went by in the opposite direction to us ... and didn't stop. It wasn't on blues-twos, wasn't in a hurry, driver didn't even look. There was a serious risk to the grey car getting hit from two traffic flows now, so I made the decision to put it backwards onto the junction, away from the main A149 traffic flow.  I'd had some training in the past, I knew there would be idiots not paying attention, but made a judgement call to get that car out the way, so it didn't get shunted into everyone else by someone not paying attention to the road. It happens!

I waited for a suitable gap in traffic, and facing oncoming traffic I could see each car approaching. A lady in a fat-bottomed Megane was approaching and not even slowing down (I think we'd literally just entered a 40mph zone, she she probably wasn't doing 40). Instinct got my arm out of the door and my hand up in her face to tell her to slow down. Wishing I'd got hi-vis on at that point!

She did slow down considerably, thankfully, but didn't stop to give me time to move the car, just drove around us. I'm not a Police officer directing traffic, but if there's an accident in front of you and someone is giving you instructions, does it really take more than a couple of brain cells to think, "Ok, I'll wait for a moment to let them get out of the way", apparently it did.

Fortunately, the person behind her did stop, holding up traffic for the 10 seconds I needed to push the car a few meters out of the way. I felt much happier now there wasn't a missile pointed at us.

Anyway, about ten minutes later a Fire & Rescue truck rocked up on blues and stopped traffic, put out "Police Slow" signs and started attending to Julie. All the time, my 2 year old is getting excited because there were "nee-nah's" arriving, and my 3 month old was mostly asleep.

I gave Mary something to do by getting her details for Julie and talking to her to try and calm her down. My initial thoughts were, "The F&R was just closer than an ambulance," and then they started unpacking almost everything. Hoses came out, chocks, jaws of life, then I thought "Ah training exercise". Realising after getting an update from my wife that there might be neck injuries, so the F&R were going by the book.

I don't know if they actually lifted the lid, but they took every precaution as standard; disconnected the battery, chocked the body so it couldn't move etc. The ambulance turned up next, followed by about three Police cars, another Fire Engine and then another Ambulance.  My 2 year old was so excited! Fortunately there was no panic in the back of our car.

I spoke to one of the officers and gave him an account for the accident book, even though he decided that the grey car was actually brown. Soon corrected that and initialed the crap out of his form :) We did what we could, then we were just in the way, so off we went. The Police stopped traffic and let us out past the appliances, although the Fire Chief was trying to get himself run over, I'm sure of it.

Cut to two hours later, after a nice meander down the river and a stop for lunch and a walk. My mobile rings in the middle of a field (what was it doing there you ask ... bad joke). It was a bit windy, so all I heard to start with was something about the accident earlier, so thought it was the Police wanting more info. Turns out it was the husband of Julie (the blue car up front) calling us to thank us profusely for helping her and taking care of her until help arrived. She was at home now, feeling much better and calming down with a nice glass of Brandy.

That single phone call made my day!  Turns out, Julie's phone had no credit so my wife used my phone to call her husband so she could talk to him, so that's how he had my number. Little things like that can make a big difference to someone who is scared and frightened.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. There are people who don't care, won't care, couldn't give a shit. Then there are the rest of us who actually feel some sort of responsibility to our fellow man to do something to help them.

I urge anyone reading this thinking, "I wouldn't have stopped," to ask yourself why? Too busy to put your plans on hold to help someone, even just a little? To scared that you wouldn't know what to do? Just making a call to 999 would be a start. Thinking, "What if they're hurt, I couldn't help them"?

Get yourself on a basic First Aid course, it will give you confidence to give even the most basic assistance, to potentially saving a life. I've used what I've been taught on more than one occasion, so has my wife. It literally could save a life.