Friday, February 15, 2008

Standing about gawking isn't a form of helping

I frequented the "Arts" last night and after the bows had been taken, the lights went up, and people started to leave the call went up for a doctor as it seems one of the patrons has lost consciousness or at least was quite unwell. The theatre was still about 60% full at this point and while a couple of people, with one hopes some first responder* training, moved in. The vast majority of the audience simply stood where they were, in the aisles, in the corridors leading to the exits, basically wherever they could get a good look.

It might be news to people (and these were almost all adults I'd give an age or late 30s if not older) but standing about getting in the way while being unable to render any assistance yourself is

a) no help to anyone
b) going to may actively prevent trained people from coming to the assistance of the person in need of help.

So let's all remember if you can't help then either try and find someone who can help or do what you can to get out of the way of those who might be able to assist and are trying to get in. Crowding in to get a good look is of no comfort to someone who comes round from having a weakness or seizure in public to know that several hundred people stood about make sure they had all the details to tell when they got home.

*I think that's American terminology but it fits well enough.


Donal said...

Ah yes, but people standing around aren't there to help. It's like some form of watching a car crash. People slow down to see what happened. Likewise in that situation.

I was at the Salthill airshow last year when the helicopter door fell off injuring three people. We were already walking away at this stage but loads of people started running over to see what happened, milling around what could have been dead people for all they knew. It was crazy!

Dan Sullivan said...

Donal, you are completely correct. We're a nation that so love a good story we seem to feel bound to gawk just so we have all the details when it relating later to our friends. Which you would expect of teenagers but not people old enough to be the parents of teenagers.

Alan said...

The bystander effect a.k.a. "Genovese Syndrome"....

For more, have a read of the rather excellent book "Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini.

As an aside, he advises that if you are ever a victim or in need of assistance for whatever reason, and there are people standing around not doing anything - pick a person out of the crowd and tell them exactly what you need e.g. "Miss, in the red tshirt, please call an ambulance, I may be having a heart attack".

An excellent book all round.

So, what you describe is nothing to do with nationality. Neither would a particular age group be more prone to "gawk".. It's human nature...