This is a blog about the events, and more importantly, the people I met a few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon. I've told several people this story and they all said you should write about that in one of your blogs. So here it is - I wonder what you make of it?
It was Friday afternoon around 2 pm and I was driving back from the shops with food for dinner for friends coming over that evening. I'd bought some ice cream and this will have some relevance later.
As I turned into Carnavaon Rd in Bristol I saw a man lying on the pavement, not moving. Without a second thought I pulled over and went to see if he was alright. I did the usual - Hello can you hear me? Are you Ok? Is there anything I can do to help? No response but I could see he was breathing.
I tried asking again and there was still no response. Looking more closely I could see the man was possibly homeless because of the condition of the clothes he was wearing and there was a water bottle filled with something that could have been cider or lager. At this point I could have thought: Oh he's probably drunk, he'll sober up and I'll be on my way.
However I wasn't sure this was the case.
He could have hit his head.
He could have had a fit, a heart attack, a stroke.
I didn't know so I called an ambulance.
They took details asking if he was breathing and conscious. At this point he pulled himself up slightly and said 'I'm a $%^*£.' (I'm not going to write exactly what he said.)
I told the call handler he was able to speak and moved away slightly to say it may be alcohol related because of the plastic bottle near him. They said they would still send an ambulance. I waited on the road and this was when I met a series of people:
Man and woman in van:Two people saw the man, saw me and then pulled over asked if I was OK and he was OK and if there was anything they could do. They went to ask him and he sat up a bit again and said 'I'm a $%^*£' They thanked me for calling an ambulance and asked if I was happy to wait with him. (I was)
Person 3: Have you called an ambulance? I explained that I had and the fact that I didn't know what had happened to him - it could be alcohol related, it could be a mental health issue. He agreed strongly saying 'we must never judge people.' and off he went.
Person 4: He lived nearby and had seen the man as he was about to park his car. He asked if I had called an ambulance and then stayed around to keep an eye on things.
Person 5 and 6 : They had seen the man and had pulled over further up the road. The man informed me his wife was a doctor, a psychiatrist in fact. (Phew, I thought someone with expertise in this area and may be able to help) Within moments she was talking to him and asking his name. It was Richard he said and then repeated I'm a $%^*£' and fell back down again.
Person 7 in car: She wound down the window and asked if we were OK and if there was anything she could do. We were fine, just waiting for the ambulance.
Ambulance slows down with two paramedics- person 8 and 9 : I ask if this is the ambulance I called. They said no they already had someone in their van but wondered if we needed any other help. Unable to add Richard onboard, they returned with blankets to cover him up and keep him warm and off they went.
Person 10: He told us he had already seen this man and had tried calling an ambulance and they said they wouldn't come out. However they were on their way.
We chatted a bit about the day to each other the doctor, his wife, the man who lived just next door and I. Someone said that ambulances had been known to take 4 hours to arrive... We all had places to be but not in any rush - it was at this point I did think of the ice cream and then quickly dismissed it...
Person 11: She lived across the road and asked if she could do anything. The doctor asked if perhaps she could make Richard a cup of tea. Tea appeared within minutes.
Ambulance arrives person 12 and 13: Two paramedics got out of the ambulance and spoke straight away to Richard. The doctor explained she had been in touch with the mental health team and they were aware of the situation and he was more than likely going to be sectioned. They talked with kindness, patience and care and helped him into the ambulance.
I left at this point, knowing that Richard was now in safe hands.
For the whole time I was there I felt I was observing the very best in people. The kindness, the patience, the lack of judgement, the willingness to help. I lost count of how many people in cars slowed down and asked if we were OK. None of us shared our names, but if you are reading this and you were one of the people there on that Friday afternoon, thank you x