I was driving home from the hospital last night and there’s a couple of lorries in the lanes ahead of me. They both put on their hazard lights and slow right down. I slow down too and move to overtake them. When I pull out into the overtaking lane, I see why they were slowing down.
Up ahead there’s been an accident. A silver car is resting against the central reservation with its bonnet all smashed up. There are no emergency services around.
I have a dilemma.
Should I drive on, like the rest of the traffic, or should I stop and see if anyone is hurt and try and help?
One voice was saying: “Michael, you have no experience of handling out-of-hospital emergencies, you have no equipment AT ALL. All you have is your bare hands, what use do you think you can be? Stopping would be pointless.”
Another voice was saying, “Look, you may not have been trained in this kind of thing but you are a doctor and you have managed trauma in A&E, you know the basics and you’ll undoubtedly know more than anyone else there. You should stop and try to help.”
I’m getting closer to the car now, I can see a man standing near the car. I make up my mind.
“Hello, my name’s Michael, I’m a doctor on my way home from work. Are you OK? Is anyone hurt?”
It turns out that the man and his girlfriend were both fine. They were obviously shaken up, but they were both out of the car, walking around and talking to me. After a couple of minutes, the police arrive on the scene and I decide to leave and take myself home to bed.
What made me stop was the fact that IF there had been someone hurt, there MIGHT have been something I could have done to help. If there was the possibility I could have saved someone’s life and I’d driven on and ignored them, then, I would have felt so guilty that I would not have been able to sleep at night.
Last night I slept like a log.