Friday, June 20, 2008

When to Help the Injured

Okay so I just talked about Claire getting injured during the race and I talked about how the other runners (and fans, for that matter) ignored her as she fell twice and crawled to the finish line.

That got me thinking and brought me to my next point or question:

During a race, when do (or should) you (the runner) stop to help another runner who is injured?

Vote and let me know what you think.

Many of you may think it's an obvious answer: Stop and help the person because helping a person is more important than finishing the race in a good time, or at all. However, it is a much tougher decision for me.

A few times during races I've seen injured people hobbling along with a runner that's helping them, and it's obvious they won't finish the race. At those times I always ask myself what I would do if that runner had fallen right in front of me.

It's such a hard choice because I am a competitive, selfish person (is this confession?).

If the person had fallen right in front of me and they couldn't get back up, and I was the only one around, I would feel obligated to stop and help them. Despite the fact that I would be helping someone who needs me, I would be very disappointed that it caused me to have a slower time in the race (especially if I was feeling strong and going fast).

If the person had fallen around me and there were others around who hadn't stopped, I would assume (more like, hope) that they would be fine and surely someone else would stop for them. That is the truth.

Which brings me to my next point: Whenever someone needs help- whether it be due to a car accident, due to a bully, due to a fight, what have you- the majority of people will let the problem/violence continue because they assume that someone else will take care of the matter and call for help.

One personal example is when I was driving home on the interstate last year and I saw an SUV flipped over in grassy area near the median. As I drove by I saw that people were inside the car still, upside-down. I was so scared for them and so I immediately called 911. However, that's all I did.

No one was around the SUV, no one else had stopped to help them, I don't know how long they were there for- and yet I still didn't stop because I assumed that surely someone else would see they needed help and stop for them.

The whole ride home and afterwards I kept thinking about them and wondering if I should have stopped to help.

This assumption has been referred to as the Genovese Syndrome, or the Bystander Effect. According to the highly reliable source- Wikipedia- solitary individuals will typically intervene if another person is in need of help. However help is less likely to be given if more people are present.

To sum up where "Genovese Syndrome" comes from, Kitty Genovese was sexually assaulted, robbed, and then stabbed to death in front of many of her neighbors in NY in the '60s. People saw what was going on but yet let it happen, not in the least bit attempting to stop the man or to help the woman.

I could go on and on but I must get back to work.

Bottom line is- be careful if you're ever the one in need. Flag down people and yell at people to stop and help you because if there's more than one person around watching you get beat up or robbed, chances are no one will help.


Brian said...

That makes me think of this article that I just read about the same type of thing. There's a video of it too. It's not that bad, but still not for the squeamish.

Arthur said...

That link isn't working. Not sure if this is the same one, but here's a similar hit and run:

Nobody helps

Anonymous said...

That last hit and run made national headlines. But a few days later when they examined the phone records several people had called 911 within seconds. If somebody has been hit by a car, unless they are still in traffic, it is best to let paramedics move the person in case there is a spinal injury.

The track situation you listed was a very unique outlier case. The girl collapsed near the finish line where there were trainers, medical personnel, etc. Unless you have medical training, the people that can help already know about the problem.

In race situations, specifically trail running situations where race personnel could potentially be miles from an incident, it is your obligation to collect information and pass it on.

It doesn't take long, just ask 'are you ok'? If they respond 'no' or you don't believe them, tell an official at the next aid station. The loss of 5 seconds is fairly insignificant during a multi-hour event. I'm sure you can say 'guy was vomiting a mile back and didn't want water' or 'red shirt rolled his ankle bad on the switchback and is limping' while you are eating chips.

I know its not lady like, but I'm sure you can practice in the mirror before races and eventually not spit out too many chips while you are talking.

If you see somebody fall, just ask if they need assistance. Can they walk? They'll know within a minute or two whether an ankle can hold weight.

You don't have to limp it in with them, but you do have to report it.

Then the officials will know to ask the next runners that come in on updates and evaluate if they need to send help.

You should stop though if the situation looks life threatening, like profuse bleeding from a head hitting a rock or something.

Ramble. Ramble.

Arthur said...

"I know its not lady like..."

I can assure you that this is not a concern for La corredora.

Clara said...

Thanks Josh- You're exactly right.

Chris- Good points.

I forgot about aid stations and how you can always report it.

I don't mind using 5 seconds of my time to tell someone about an injured person.

My main concern was I didn't want to stop running completely and help someone limp three miles to the next aid station.

And yes, I'd like to think that I would stop to help someone if the situation was life threatening.

There were a lot of times during the Tecumseh race that if you stopped looking at the ground where you were going, you could have easily slipped off a large cliff-like edge.

What goes around comes around?