What follows took place the day after my last entry.
It is a long description of a serious incident that happened over the course of roughly half an hour. I have divided it into Parts One and Two because it happened in two distinct stages.
I have featured this incident here for several reasons, which I will get to after Part Two.
It was not long after 5pm. AussieCon4 had just finished and my friend had just gotten on a tram to return to our headquarters at The Victoria Hotel. I had decided to walk back to the Vic along the Yarra Promenade on the south bank of the Yarra River.
I had just walked past the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex when up ahead, a young man coming towards me suddenly collapsed.
I rushed up to help him as he struggled to get back up.
At first, I wanted to move him to a nearby bench to sit down, but he insisted that instead I hold him down on the ground and even sit on him until the fit he was having passed.
Because I’m very heavy, I didn’t want to sit on him for fear of hurting him, but as he had requested I pinned him down on his stomach and, as I knelt close to him, I held him down as firmly as I could.
He was still conscious and calmly asking me to hold him down and sit on him, while his body shuddered violently.
Soon, a passer-by asked if we needed any help, and I admitted to him that I wasn’t sure what I was doing. Fortunately, he came over to help hold down the young man.
Shortly after that, a second man joined us. He told us that he had a brother with a similar problem, and he asked the young man if he wanted an ambulance or the police to be called. The young man declined.
Not long after that, three huge bouncers from the Crown Casino ran up. We quickly reassured them that nothing wrong was happening – although initially, it could have looked like that the three of us were assaulting the young man.
Shortly after, the young man wanted to get up. He thanked and hugged us for helping him, declined further offers to call for assistance, and left us, heading east.
The bouncers recorded my details, and I thanked them and the second man for their help (during this time the first man had left). We all went our separate ways.
I felt a little shaken, but relieved that the incident had been resolved painlessly enough.
I resumed walking east, and looked forward to returning to the Vic, having a shower and sitting down.
About five minutes later, I crossed Queensbridge Street.
I decided to use the Southbank Footbridge, which I had used for all of my previous trips to and from AussieCon4, and continued on.
A moment later, I saw the young man again, between me and the Southbank Footbridge. He had fallen down again and was struggling to get back up, while another man nearby was offering assistance.
My first instinct was to ignore what I had seen ahead, turn around and head back to the Sandridge Bridge, because part of me didn’t want to have to deal with this again.
But another part of me realised that the young man needed help, and because I was familiar with him I could reassure anyone else who got involved.
I hurried to the young man, who recognised me, and I also told the other man that I was here to help.
This time, the young man got to his feet and asked if I could help take him to the police centre at Flinders Street Station, which was not far away from the Southbank Footbridge across the Yarra.
I said I would help, and as I held him firmly on the left side of his body and began to help him walk along the other man took hold of his right side.
The three of us crossed the Southbank Footbridge and began heading along the north bank of the Yarra towards Flinders Street Station. All this time, the young man remained calm as he had before, despite his body powerfully resisting all three of us, and I reassured him and passers-by that everything would be fine.
As we got closer to Flinders Street Station, however, the young man became increasingly nervous – and as we reached a flight of steps that would take us up to the station, he stopped and said that he didn’t want to go up there.
The other man and I tried to calm him down and advise him to continue, but the young man broke free of our grasp and quickly ran off in the opposite direction.
The other man and I continued up into Flinders Street Station – and as we got there, another man who must have seen us was coming out with three policemen, and he pointed to us.
We explained what had happened to the policemen. They took my details and thanked us for our help, and we all went our separate ways.
About five minutes later at 5:42pm, I was back in my room at the Vic.
I had a shower, a sit-down and a brief cry. Soon, I felt better.
Why have I included the above account here at Black and Blue Man? There are several reasons.
First, although the incident left me shaken at the time and especially afterwards, I was greatly relieved that throughout I had acted calmly and didn’t panic – instead of adding to the problem, I helped to provide a solution.
Second, and this especially reinforces the first reason, it demonstrates why my St John Ambulance Australia first-aid training has been invaluable. Although I have done this training for work several times since the late 1990s, previously I had never had to use it – but when I first went to help the young man collapse for the first time, some very important facets of my training kicked in:
- stay calm
- stay focused
- act – doing something is better than doing nothing
- common sense will take over (and it did)
- communicate with the patient – listen to what they have to say, and keep talking to them reassuringly
Third, when the first passer-by asked if I wanted help, I was sensible enough to admit that I needed it. During the past few years from what I’ve learnt via reading and therapy, it’s important not to be afraid to ask for help.
Fourth, despite my immediate reaction when I saw the young man the second time, I ultimately convinced myself not to turn away but help him again. Although I was scared, again it was better to do something than to leave him to suffer.