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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Homeless person dies while onlookers just film it

You have to be horrified by what this story says about the city that I love. Everyone has a cell phone these days; what has taken over our collective minds if we can see someone suffering, bleeding, dying and not even take five seconds to dial 911?

I was walking to my car with my son the other day, along 2nd street, and we saw a man lying on the ground. Nothing unusual in SF -- I don't call for help every time I see a person asleep on the street. Except that this guy was bleeding from the head, and when I tried to wake him, he was incoherent. Maybe drunk, maybe just fell down, whatever; I'm not a doctor or an EMT.

But I'm a martial arts referee with enough first aid training to know that head wounds are always potentially serious, so I called 911.

It took moments, a tiny instant out of my life. The cops were there within three minutes. They knew exactly what to do, and took control, and told me I could (and should) go, so that I wouldn't be in their way.

I have no idea what happened to the guy, or how he got there, or if his injuries were serious, or if he was just done in by too much drinking -- I'm not saying I'm some kind of grand samaritan who followed him to the hospital and became his best friend or anything. But I know he didn't die there in the street. That seems like a very modest amount of civic responsibility.

Who are these people who didn't call 911 when someone was clearly bleeding and in serious trouble? I 'm not suggesting they all jump in and do CPR; most people aren't trained for that anyway. Sometimes being an amateur and trying to do emergency health care is the worst possible thing.

But it's not all that hard to call for help. You won't even miss your lunch meeting. I promise. And you might save a life.


  1. I am more and more convinced that the human species will assign itself to extinction not through some cataclysmic holocaust, but rather through our disconnection with, disinterest in, and dehumanization of one another from each other. We will eventually die of this cultural numbness that we have created to keep us from feeling the overwhelming avalanche of suffering all around us. But what about Justin Bieber's monkey?

  2. ..."But I know he didn't die there in the street. That seems like a very modest amount of civic responsibility."

    Your link to the story, as well as its headline, state that the man did die at the scene. But calling 911 is the least anyone, certainly with a phone, could do.