A friend sent this very disturbing video, along with a message to blog about this so that we can initiate a healthy discussion on what can be done to avoid such circumstances.
To briefly summarize: A young man (allegedly) committed suicide by jumping off the topmost floor of the Express Avenue mall in Chennai, India. The tragedy was just not that. It was the delay in having emergency medical aid being brought to him, so that maybe he could be saved.
I do not wish to discuss any of these: suicide vs. murder vs. accident, intent etc etc. What I do wish to discuss is the state of emergency medical help available in our country. I had a number of questions when I saw the video:
- Out of the hundreds of witnesses, did even one try calling 102?
- What is the response time for 102?
- What would I have done if I was there?
- Wasn't there a doctor or nurse who could have helped?
- Why did the police come without paramedics?
- A 10 (or more) minute delay for first-aid? Should malls have medical rooms?
- At that time, nobody knew it was a suicide, why was the public prevented from stepping in?
Here are the answers:
We are a nation that hides behind the anonymity that large masses bring. Basically, we are cowards. I am. You know what I would have done had I been there? I would have kept a "safe" distance. I swear I would have called 100 and 102 (though, from personal experience I know calling 100 is a big joke, but still.) I would have spoken to the mall authorities to extend medical help. That's all. I would not have stepped upto personally take the guy to the hospital or give him first aid (even if I knew how to). In addition I would have stopped any near or dear one form doing so. Let's stay within a reasonable response range, I would have said.
To whoever blames the public (and me) for apathy, I'd offer an insincere apology. The system has failed once too often for me to have any faith. Don't give me the BS on how we make the system. No, I don't. So, for once I'd rather not blame the curious and innocent bystanders.
I don't know if malls should have medical rooms. Yes, why not? But would they have helped?
The management was scared too? Or they simply didn't want any unnecessary "mess"? Who has a conscience in this country anymore, anyways?
Somebody did call the cops though. Why did they take more than 10 minutes to show up? Was their response timely enough? Did they bring the paramedics? What was the first aid offered to the victim? Was the mall security/authorities booked for inaction? My guess is that NO would be the answer to these questions.
The aam aadmi (common man) wants to return home safe after his day long quest of roti (food), kapda (clothing) and makaan (shelter).
The people with the muscle and the moolah need their hands free from any unwarranted mess because they have a lot of s*&%t to deal with anyways.
The law enforcers have to choose between protecting the common man or the people with the money and power. They don't have much of an option, do they?
The government needs the law enforcers and the powerful moneyed people to make money for those in positions. They are not sure whether they'll be reinstated in the next elections - so this maybe their only opportunity to fill their personal coffers up.
So, what does one do? Just what the video says at the end. Be alert. Be safe. You are on your own. Oh yes, you can once in a while try checking up if the guy up there still exists.
(If you have a better suggestion, bring it on - but before you talk about Satyagraha and fasts unto death, boycotts and andolans/revolutions, just keep in mind we are talking about ordinary people like you and me who stand alone in a country of over a billion people.)