The real heroes of Westminster

I’ve seen a lot of reports saying Tobias Elwood was a hero yesterday at the Westminster attacks. He wasn’t though; he just knew first aid. I’m not having a go at him, or anybody, good grief no, his actions were indeed commendable, but he’s far from a hero.

I work in construction, and have been a first aider for around 15 years. I’ve used it once, luckily, and not at work, but in a park where a lady at the side of me had a seizure and landed face first on a step in front of us. I looked after her until the paramedics came. I often think about that lady and wonder if she was okay. Her family thanked me and that was that. I was proud of myself if I’m honest. I’d helped someone and their family in a time of need.

I wasn’t a hero though, I too, just knew first aid. What that day did make me think about was how it must feel to do that every day, several times a day, going to look after people in their times of need, with bleeding faces, broken bones, serious injury, heart attacks, severe illness, missing limbs, chemical exposure, you name it, people literally seconds from death. The paramedics turned up and took over, no fuss, no hesitation. It made me glad I don’t do it every day. I don’t know how they can. The things they must see. To choose a career where every single day they see the most horrendous sights you can imagine, things you watch from behind a cushion or through your fingers in horror movies for a thrill. They must be fools, but fools that have immeasurably more compassion than I.

They were almost anonymous yesterday on the news, they almost always are. Yes, the emergency services got a mention from MPs ticking their sound bite box, but they’re almost always anonymous. Tobias got the plaudits. Granted, a doff of the cap to him, but paramedics, nurses, doctors, and probably hundreds of people whose job titles I don’t even know, just got on with their jobs and helped people having possibly the worst day of their life. Then they all went home, and went to bed, only to do it all again today.

I don’t have any immediate friends or family that work in the profession; I know a nurse, I went to school with two people who are now paramedics, but I’m not thinking of anyone in particular that I want to praise or defend here. I’m not wanting thanks for helping that woman, I’m not after likes, I’m not making a political statement about the NHS or having a pop at MPs, and lord knows I love doing that, and I’m not having a go at anyone or talking about what actually happened, I just thought a little perspective was required. The people who are first on the scene of disaster, the people that arrive in an ambulance, who have to make instant decisions on the best way to potentially save a life, and take you to hospital then give you to someone else to look after you, who themselves years earlier, made a decision that they wanted to help others every single day, they genuinely amaze me. They are the heroes in my mind.

And for the love of god, start teaching first aid in schools. There is no excuse not to. It doesn’t cost much, it saves lives, and it makes you want to help people as opposed to getting your phone out and filming. Love to all.

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