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To stop and care or walk on by?


Recently, I stopped to help an elderly lady who had collapsed in my local high street

Emma Lucas

A crowd had gathered around the lady and kind people were laying down coats and phoning for help.

I could see the lady was in a very bad way and was relieved to see a compassionate figure, knelt down beside the lady, talking to her with a gentle voice.

I knelt next to them both, introduced myself as a student nurse and discovered the ‘Good Samaritan’ was a trained nurse (out of uniform on her day off). 

We placed the lady in the recovery position, concentrating on ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation) and monitored her pulse, talking to her all the while. Shortly afterwards, the elderly lady stopped breathing and between us we commenced CPR.

We urged the ambulance operative to heighten the response rate. 

The trained nurse next to me was asked the question, “Will you take clinical responsibility for the patient?” I was shocked by this question and relieved that she replied “no”.

The lady stopped breathing again and we repeated CPR until the ambulance arrived almost 40 minutes later. Sadly, I found out later that the lady had passed away.

Legally, nurses are free to walk on by. 

But professionally and morally, I am sure the majority would stop regardless of the legal and ethical consequences.

However, I was left uncertain as to whether we had made the right choice to carry on with chest compressions for the amount of time we were waiting for the ambulance.

My head told me I had a moral responsibility to preserve life. 

But my heart told me different.

What would you have done?

Emma Lucas is in her second year studying adult nursing


Readers' comments (2)

  • You did brilliantly and did the right thing! Think how you would have felt if you did nothing.

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  • As a first year student, I think I would have stopped. (If I wasn't too scared!) and even though you think you should have stopped cpr before you did and that you were maybe putting the lady through a trauma that she didn't need to suffer through, at that point what you were doing was for the people around you, awful as it is to say. You make that decision and you have to carry on. You'll have been a great comfort to her family, knowing that there were people helping her and she was not alone. Plus you'd have felt awful if maybe you could have done something but didn't.

    A whole lot more people need to learn BLS in my opinion.

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