I say people never know what they are capable of until the situation arises. I found this to be true last night.
Months ago, I sat in a classroom, half-listening, and the only reason I sat there was because my bosses made me go. The instructor went over the material; she placed dummies on the ground, and then she handed out literature.
“I’ll try to keep it interesting,” she promised.
“The sooner we all get this down, the sooner we can all get out of here.”
At that point, most of the class stopped answering their emails from their cellular devices. We put our things away and then went over the necessary steps to learn and preform CPR.
We went over different scenarios; we did our own role play, and the teacher kept to her word. She made the subject interesting, and kept the class moving.
“I know what you’re all thinking,” she said. “You’re all wondering if you’ll remember this stuff…”
Last night, I boarded the train after another long shift at work. I found a seat and then wired music to my ears. As the train pulled out of Pennsylvania Station, I began to forget about the city. I was beginning to unwind and forget the stress of work. I was thinking about dinner and listening to The Pink Floyd.
The train was approximately 10 minutes west of Jamaica Station when I noticed a woman standing near the doors. Rush hour is not always the kindest time. Seating is first come, first serve, and by the time this woman arrived on the 6:53 to Ronkokoma, all of the seats were taken.
The woman appeared healthy. She was well dressed, but perhaps dressed warmly. I noticed as she stepped backwards, as if to catch her balance. However, no one else seemed to notice. No one else caught her as she fell to the floor either.
I pulled the ear pieces from my ears, threw may bag from my lap, and rushed over. A group of men and women stood above the fallen girl. All of them looked down, and all of them asked, “Are you ok?”
“No,” said the woman. “I’m not.”
I could see fear in her eyes and her fear quickly became mine.
As I knelt beside her, two men tried to pick her up.
“DO NOT PICK HER UP!” I told them. “You don’t know why she went down.”
“Ma’am, I need you to lie still for a second.” I pointed to a man sitting in a seat nearby. “YOU, do you have a cell phone?”
“Yes, I do,” he answered.
I explained, “Good, I need you to call 911,” and I made sure he acknowledged me.
I pushed everyone that crowded the scene away, and fortunately, there was an EMT onboard. He rushed over, asked me to stay, and I did as I was told. But others are not as obedient, so naturally, they began to crowd the scene again.
I repeated very loudly, “I need you to get back. I don’t want anyone standing here!”
(That’s the good thing about my New York accent; it makes me sound tougher than I am)
“I feel better,” the woman promised. “I don’t know what happened….I guess I just fainted.”
After several questions from the Emergency Medical Technician, we picked her up and the EMT went to retrieve his bag. But as he went, I stood beside the woman. I noticed her eyes sort of vanish.
I asked, “Ma’am,” but she looked through me.
“Are you ok?”
As the woman fell into my arms, I laid her down on the floor.
I was glad she did not need CPR and I was happy she came back to consciousness.
As the train pulled into Jamaica Station, several officers waited by the doorway. What frustrated me is that no one on the train moved for a woman in distress. No one even offered their seat until a man said, “Someone should really let her sit down.”
What angered me is the callousness of others. I was furious as people thought they could step over the sick woman to exit the train…
But not on my watch
I kept thinking, “What if that was my mother? What if that was my wife, or my daughter?”
What kind of society have we become?
After the woman was taken to an ambulance, the train pulled out of Jamaica Station, and I sat down. After which, the EMT grabbed my arm and assured me, “You did a good job back there.”
A few others agreed, but I felt as if I were about to lose my head.
I’m not sure why I felt a surge of tears after I walked off the train. Perhaps it’s because I was able to pay back a piece of what I owe. Maybe it was just my adrenaline….maybe it was my disappointment with the lack of humanity from other passengers.
All I know is I learned more than I thought in that CPR class. I knew when to step in and when to step back.
I learned that I am more capable than I thought…