Urban Legends and Knowing What to Do in a Crisis

Your Kmareka correspondent is one of the few with the courage to say it out loud. I hate Christmas. I would gladly skip the whole thing for adults. Children should not be cheated out of their presents and Christmas joy of course, but let’s buy them some toys and the rest of us have cocktail parties and eat samosas. There, I’ve said it.

But as Scroogy as I am, I don’t totally buy into the flip side of American Christmas –bemoaning our greed and materialism. Although this story is true, I sense a touch of the Urban Legend…

Family and friends were stunned by the loss of a West Virginia man who died while shopping on Black Friday as fellow bargain hunters reportedly walked around — and even over — the man’s body.

Family members told WSAZ-TV that 61-year-old Walter Vance of Logan County, W. Va., had become ill and collapsed while shopping for Christmas decorations inside Target in South Charleston. He later died after being taken to the hospital, family said.

Witnesses told the NBC News affiliate in Charleston, W. Wa., that shoppers walked around and even over Vance’s body.

It’s a fact of human nature, and cause for much anguish after the fact, that we tend not to understand or deal well with the unexpected. I have witnessed people collapsing in public, only to be surrounded by concerned bystanders within seconds. The crucial requirement is that the bystanders recognize a crisis and have a script for how to respond. Mr. Vance had the misfortune to have an emergency out of context. I think that most of the crowd of deranged Christmas shoppers simply did not recognize what they were seeing. But Mr. Vance was helped by some people who knew what to do…

An E.R. nurse who also happened to be shopping at the store tried to administer CPR. She and an off-duty paramedic tried to help Vance while he was on the floor.

I’ll be the first to say, ‘Bah, humbug’ to Black Friday. But I think the tragic demise of Walter Vance was more a stroke of fate than an American morality tale.

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6 responses

  1. When I was a NY State Court Officer assigned to Brooklyn,we often had derelicts sleeping on the courthouse steps in the warm weather-they were ignored unless they were unruly-well,one day this other officer got annoyed with the same guy in the same spot for two or three days so he went over and prodded him with his foot and the guy was dead-he must’ve gone in and out of rigor when no one was around or maybe he didn’t at all-he was an old wino after all.
    Once we found a derelict sleeping in the locker room in Manhattan Criminal Court on a weekend.He didn’t remember how he got in there.
    When I worked Brooklyn Night Court(NOT resembling the tv show)we once had a woman wandering around the halls in a coat and nothing else showing herself off-she apparently hadn’t bathed in several months and was a loony tune-we had a hell of a time getting EMS to take her to the mental health center.
    Nothing in NYC was a surprise.

  2. Did any of you se the video of a toddler hit by a truck in China and left on the street unattended by passersby and other vehicles which just steered around her?Sickening.I don’t know if she survived.

    1. I couldn’t watch the video, can’t imagine the state of mind of people who walked by. The little girl didn’t live.

      1. I did watch it through-my wife couldn’t-I had to see this brain dead behavior by allegedly “normal”people to believe it.
        There have been many cases of passersby in the US who risked their safety to help someone they didn’t know.I’ve seen it in other countries also.
        Hopefully that kind of response outweighs what was on that screen.
        I have seen some very bad stuff in my life,but that was scary-the moral emptiness of the people walking by.

  3. I think there’s some research that shows that people avoid acting not out of cold-heartedness, but out of fear of looking stupid.

    It’s an under-reported motive in human affairs!

    1. You might have a point-I hadn’t ever heard it put exactly that way,but sometimes a person’s reaction in an emergency situation relates to something other than what’s going on right there.

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