Getting help to a dying man...

Dear Engaged Bystander: On Sunday, the NY Times reported on how one man, Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, had the courage to intervene in an argument. And in this case, he was stabbed multiple times, and then HE was left for dead by others who passed over by many until he died on the streets of New York.

A man who should be celebrated as a hero, is now dead because so many people passed by and did nothing.

This is truly a tragic story that was fully captured on video from a surveillance camera outside the building. Here is the link to the first article in the NY Times, "Dozens Ignored a Man Dying On a Sidewalk in Queens." The article describes what happened and describes how police are looking for the man who killed Mr. Alfredo Tale-Yax.

The next article in the NY Times, "Questions Surround a Delay in Help for a Dying Man" describes in detail what happened that morning. The article describes how so many people walked by Mr Alfredo Tale-Yax and did nothing. One man took a picture and another turned him over, but then walked away when Mr. Alfredo Tale-Yax did not move. The article describes all of the reasons why people don't intervene -- afraid of immigration laws, fear of getting hurt, and just minding their own business in a neighborhood filled with violence and homeless people.

If you read the entire article, you will see that 3/4 of the way through the article, they describe how three people DID call the police at three different times. Unfortuantely the first two gave a wrong street address and the police could not respond.

When you know that some people did call, our questions begin to change. What made these three individuals call? How do we effectively let people know that calling is the right thing to do, that people do call the police. How do we get THAT storyline as the lead? How do we teach the essential skills needed for a caller to give the needed information and especially give the correct street address? If you think about the five steps outlined in the earliest research on bystander intervention (Darley and Latane, 1968), there are five clear steps that a bystander must take:

  1. recognize the situation
  2. decide that an action is needed
  3. decide that they have a responsibility to act
  4. know what action is needed
  5. understand how to implement the action

In this case, the initial callers got through the initial four steps, but did not have the skills to follow-through. In this case a man died because we have not given people the skills that they need.

Let's begin to ask different questions so that we can shift the norm towards getting involved and giving help to those who need us.