Is He Dead?

1024px-Russell_Square_Tube_PlatformHe was completely motionless.  Balanced on the edge of the steel bench he was sitting on. Bent over, his head to one side and hanging down so far it was between his legs.

Busy commuters blurred past, ignoring him and choosing to keep their distance. I also walked by but in the few seconds before I turned back to look again, I thought: “What kind of doctor will I become if I walk past people who may need help?” My next thought was: “Never mind that, what kind of person would I be….?” I tried to see if there were any movements to suggest he was breathing but he looked so still – and peaceful. Like dead peaceful.

So I walked back. “Are you alright?”

No answer. Thoughts about CPR, whether they kept AEDs (defibrillators) on station platforms and the location of the platform emergency phone flashed in my mind. My train pulled in and others turned to look. (Why do others only stop when someone else is already there?)

A little louder: “Hey, are you alright?”

Again, no answer. There was a possibility that he really was dead.

This time I also gave him a gentle shove. The body slumped away with my push and just before it hit the bench, the head tilted up. One bloodshot bleary eye opened to look at me, slurred words, alcoholic breath: “What?! Yeah I’m OK”


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