Consider the citizens of Alberta….. yet another disaster of biblical proportions…. what did they save as they were driven out of their homes……….
I remember being posed the following question:
‘In the event of an uncontrollable conflagration and having been ordered to leave your home immediately, what would you take with you (assuming that family members and pets are safe) and why?.’….
I was given thirty minutes to think about this and was allowed to discuss it with a colleague. First of all, devoid of any sense of urgency, we wasted time by talking about matters totally unrelated to the question, moved onto silly and unrealistic responses before getting down to the nitty gritty of the dilemma. How unrealistic was this!! How can you possibly gauge a reaction to such a situation. These hypothetical dilemmas are all well and good but there’s just one vital thing you cannot possibly know or imagine – the true reality of a situation if you have never experienced its like before.
Take heroes and heroines. The majority of them are made ‘in the moment’. People whom you imagine will ‘step up to the plate’ in a crisis – just don’t. Those whom you have summarily dismissed as leaders and ‘brave-hearts’ can take your breath away (and can surprise themselves to boot!). Take smaller crises – how often have you been disappointed at the lack of understanding and support manifest in those you thought you could rely upon? It’s astounding, isn’t it?….. and it brings to mind an occasion when intentions never quite worked out as ‘planned’ while another’s unplanned but immediate response, saved the day…….
I had a very dear friend (J) who was due to deliver her first child – except she was misinterpreting the signals as ‘wind’ and took herself into the toilet where she sought relief from her ‘crampy’ pains. After a reasonable amount of time she and the new ‘dad- to- be'(M) decided that they should get some help. I should point out that back in the day B.C -Before Computers, no one had a mobile and very few people had their own house phone. My friends were days away from having their own phone installed (in time for baby’s arrival!) and hubby had already made one run to the nearest telephone box to call a doctor whose advice was to administer two ‘Alka-Seltzer’ ‘to settle the ‘upset’ tummy’ -this being the propellant which found ‘J’ settling in ‘at her own convenience’. Now, the neighbours who lived across the landing from them had told them on many occasions to come for help at any time of the day or night and they would be there for them.
It was about 2am. ‘M’ dashed across the landing and knocked the door. He knocked again and again all the while darting backwards and forwards to check on ‘the situation’. The man of the sleeping house eventually appeared – an ill fitting robe covering his credentials – and, on realising the events unfolding, went back inside and closed the door. Some minutes later an agitated ‘Angel of Mercy’ in rollers appeared clutching the same robe about her person and exuding waves of no confidence. ‘M’ ushered her into the throne room where sat ‘J’ in all her glory.
‘Ooooooh ‘J’,’ she wailed as she perched on the edge of the bath,’you shouldn’t be sitting there,’…….. whereupon she proceeded to faint, in slow motion, backwards – into the bath. ‘M’, unable to lift the ‘dead weight’ on his own, ran back to his neighbour for assistance. There being no robe available for him to appear immediately, neighbour felt the need to get fully dressed for the unscheduled rescue of his better- half. This took up valuable time. ‘J’ meantime could be heard trying to revive the crumpled angel by yelling at her from the discomfort of her ringside seat. Eventually, the two amigos set to and hauled the semi-conscious neighbour out of the bath, across the landing and into her bed. That was that door closed! What now?
Dad-to-be, although completely shattered, set off again, post- haste to the telephone box to call the doctor, having to turn back only once to grab some more ‘change’ ( google telephone boxes of the sixties) encourage ‘J’ to ‘leave the room’ and return to her bed asap. On his way back from calling the doctor, he made a slight detour to a mutual friend ‘s house who, on hearing of their plight raced from her home, grabbing her red anorak as she left and legged it over and past ‘M’ running almost a half mile in time to deliver the baby –
still wearing the red anorak and a gobsmacked expression ….. Hubby-to-be whose ‘jellified’ legs brought him in just in time to cut the chord, was still panting heavily when the ‘Alka-Seltzer Doctor’ arrived in time for the tea and toast! Phew!
Thank God for the faithful and the fearless in society at large. We can all ‘talk a good game’ but mercifully we seldom have to put our money where our mouth is. For my part I’d like to think I’d remain level headed, supportive and in control – but would I?
To those people whose chosen vocation it is to respond positively to crises of all kinds…..crime, earthquakes, disasters, combat, fires, riots, bombings, RTA’s, floods, disease etc ……….I just want to say ‘Thank You.’ x