How to Save a Life

11.15.17_Features_Catie Byrne_How to save a life_Flickr_Daren

Flickr / Daren

Catie Byrne
Features Editor

On Nov. 3, the Greensboro Police Department was called on the scene of an emergency at the intersection of Aycock Street and West Gate City Boulevard. A man, later identified as Todd Smith, was bleeding from a fresh head wound, and initially, no one, as dozens of cars and people passed, came to help him; no one, that is, but one man.

The man that came to Smith’s aid, who I will refer to as John Doe, wanted to share his story, the story of how he saved a life.

It began, Doe said, when he first noticed a man who seemed to be staggering. Originally, Doe said, he believed that the red glinting off of the staggering man’s jacket was a stain. Upon closer examination, however, Doe said, he came to realize that this was blood. “While there was a small gap in traffic while the light was still green, I ran across Gate City to help him,” said Doe.

Upon reaching the man he called 911.

“While I was one the phone with 911, they asked me to go through a series of questions with him, and it turns out he had been assaulted by another homeless man for not having any money to give him. He had been hit on the back of the head — initially he claimed to be hit on the back of the head — with a plastic box. Although when I tried to check up with UNCG Police Department,” Doe said, “they said he had fell,” however Doe was skeptical of this assessment, asserting that he believed, “he couldn’t have done that kind of damage to himself.”

At this point, Doe said, a retired army veteran came to his assistance.

In describing the condition he found Smith in, Doe said, “He had probably lost about a liter of blood when I got on the scene. He was walking in complete shock and had no idea what was going on…I got him to take off his shirt and started applying pressure with his shirt. I tried yelling across the street initially, ‘sir, are you alright?’, and then I realized, oh he can’t hear me… He kept on asking us at a certain point,” when Smith was cogent, Doe said, “to lift down his legs, and we said, ‘sir, we can’t.’” The purpose of lifting Smith’s legs, Doe clarified, was to prevent him from passing out.

He continued to attempt to slow the man’s bleeding, Doe said, as he waited for the police and EMTs to arrive.

“Greensboro PD came in about five minutes, then the fire department arrived three minutes later, then EMS came,” Doe said, explaining that after the EMTs arrived, he realized that Smith was in the medical definition of shock. “The man was slipping into unconsciousness by the time the GPD arrived on scene,” Doe said, going on to say that he later found out that Smith was released from the hospital. “Due to HIPAA laws,” however, Doe said, “they couldn’t tell me anything specific.”

Around the same time the EMTs arrived, Doe said, he began to feel an intense adrenaline rush course through his body. “I could barely hold anything; my hands were shaking so bad.” His heart rate was so high, Doe said, that he found it difficult to even hold his phone to call his family to relay the story of what happened to Smith.

One of the emotions Doe described feeling in the wake of the incident, is that of disappointment in the people around him. “What really bothered me was how many cars were just driving by,” said Doe, explaining that not one person attempted to help the man, save for the self-identified army veteran who came to Doe’s aid.

“I didn’t do this for a reward,” Doe said, explaining that he rejected a reward offered to him for saving Smith, “as a Catholic and an Eagle Scout, I feel I have a moral and ethical obligation to help other people.” What Doe wanted to communicate to others through his story, he said, is that it is important to pay attention to one’s surroundings, in order to be prepared if someone is in trouble. And if someone is in trouble, Doe said, it is necessary to help them, “if you want others to do a good deed for you, you’ve got to help people out.”

Upon request, the Greensboro Police Department’s Office of Public Information issued a copy of the official police Incident Report of Smith’s assault to this reporter, and, after examining the report, it appears that the account Doe relayed was correct. The crime listed in the report is “aggravated assault,” which is consistent with what Doe claims Smith told him. In the official report, it is estimated that the assault occurred between 3:45 to 4:03 p.m. At this time, the narrative section of the report states, the investigation is ongoing.

Categories: Features, Human Interest


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