By Lana M.
Earlier this week I had travelled to Brisbane for a meeting and was returning by plane late in the evening. The very full plane slowly emptied, and because I was well towards the back, I waited and watched as the large number of people worked their way out.
I finally had a chance to move, so with bags in hand I headed down the aisle and thanked the hostess standing at the door. I walked out onto the jet bridge ramp that was going to get me to the terminal and ahead of me was a long stream of people doing the same.
I then noted that a man was acting strangely, with knees bent, swaying, and making gestures. The three people in front of me deliberately walked around this man (which required moving right over to the side of the ramp) and then they hurried on. It was clear they did not know what was going on and did not want to know.
I stopped in front of the man and looked at him, and he was distressed (but it was unclear why or what was happening). I asked if he needed help, and he said yes, and then he slowly folded over and collapsed to the floor, shaking.
People coming up behind me literally stepped around myself and the man, and continued to head up the exit ramp.
The man, now shaking heavily, told me in a disjointed voice that it would pass soon and not to panic, and then he went into a full-blown epileptic seizure. It was just him and me remaining in the ramp as all other passengers had virtually fled to get away from whatever was going on.
I called back to the hostess, who could see from the plane what was happening, and then I waited next to the man as his whole body shook and twisted out of his control.
Finally, after several minutes, the seizure started to ease. The man was panting, sweating and face down on the floor, with his legs twisted and his body contorted. I reached down and touched his back firmly, and told him he was OK, and to feel my hand. He turned his head to me and we locked eyes for several minutes while his breathing finally slowed.
By this time there were 3 hostesses, 3 policemen, and 2 airport security men as well as the head of the airport management all standing in the ramp, watching — and none of them said a word. They were literally frozen, not saying anything or doing anything. The man lay face down, panting and exhausted, and it seemed that none of the people present knew what to do.
I have little to no familiarity with epilepsy, but I asked the man if I could make him more comfortable and helped him into a sitting position, and then gave him a bottle of water that I had in my bag. He drank and then started apologizing for the trouble he was causing. A hostess finally spoke and said that the emergency fire paramedics were on their way and not to move. She asked him if he wanted a drink of water (he had a bottle in his hand, still half full, and he had been drinking from it).
He answered no – he already had one. (LOL)
About 5 minutes later the fire paramedics arrived and they took his blood pressure (which was out the roof) and asked him for his personal details, details on his fits and so on. I remained there the whole time, standing next to the man — and one of the paramedics asked if I was travelling with him and I said no, I just happened to be there at the time.
The man explained that his father was waiting for him in the airport, and he would still be there, wondering where he was. None of the people present volunteered to make sure a message was gotten to his father, though there were plenty who could have.
After some 20 minutes, with the needed emergency forms filled out, and everyone happy that he wasn’t going to die right there in the airport, he was OK to leave. No one had brought a wheelchair and no one offered one, so I told him I would make sure he got back to his dad and I carried his bags for him.
The two of us, with a fire paramedic as an escort, walked down to find his dad and turn him over. He was embarrassed and had to explain to his dad that he had “had a turn” while getting off the plane. This obviously happens very regularly as his dad rolled his eyes and said ‘OK, let’s get you home!”.
As I drove home from the airport I was pleased that I could help the man, but I was saddened that all the other passengers had fled when there was a man acting strangely. None had the willingness or confront to reach out to him and help a stranger – in fact, they were not even up to asking him if he needed help.
The big, bad, dangerous environment that we live in, that is promoted and daily built up in the media, has people scared to reach out and ask another if they need help.
But who are we, really, if we cannot help another?
Who are we, personally, if we cannot step out of our comfort zone and help a person who is distressed?
And what a sad reflection this is on current society that so many will flee rather than ask someone if they can assist them?
Self preservation has become the order of the day.
Reflecting on this ever since, I concluded that my view is that without the ability to confront and reach out to another, we have nothing but a quiet loneliness of isolation.
And it surprises me how many people are in this isolation.
Do me a favour — reach out to someone today. Someone you don’t know, have never met, and don’t know the name of.
And ask them how they are doing and if they need any help.
It is amazing what a difference it makes in their lives, and yours. 🙂
“By their actions you shall know them, whether bad or good, whether on another side or ours.
“And what is their actions gives us the keenest insight? Their ability to help.
LRH HCOB 28 May 1960 By Their Actions