We’ve all had moments like the one Newport local Ryan Laidlaw faced on a Saturday morning last month, walking or driving past a fellow human in need, performing a quick assessment of the situation, and making a decision about how (or if) to help.

    Ryan was doing exactly that – driving past the corner of Mason and Jack streets in Newport returning home from the shops – when he saw a man lying on a nature strip with his dog almost lying on top of him, clearly in distress. Initially he kept driving, but within a few moments felt compelled to turn back. Ryan then spoke to the man:

    “I wound down the window and called out ‘Are you alright mate?’ He replied ‘Not really!’”

    So Ryan quickly parked and jumped out of the car. After a quick assessment of the dog – a Rottweiler – he decided it was friendly enough.

    “I managed to get it off so the man might be able to speak and hopefully respond” he said. “I thought, is he going to bite my hand off? But he didn’t, thankfully.”

    The man was holding his chest and complaining of a sore left arm and chest pains. He said his wife was on the way. While Ryan was sitting with him and trying to keep him calm, luckily another couple walked past and called an ambulance, which arrived in under ten minutes – a great effort.

    With the situation under control, what the man said next left Ryan shaken.

    “He said he had a few people walked past him and did not even ask how he was. In fact he even asked someone for help and they kept walking thinking he was a drunk or on drugs!”

    The universe tests all of us in different ways at different times, but this event played out in broad daylight at about 9.30 in the morning. A simple question to check that someone is OK could save a life.

    “We need to take the blinkers off sometimes and just help” added Ryan.

    With the situation under control, Ryan checked in with the man’s wife and the ambulance crew before leaving and continuing on with his weekend. A few days later, the man, Neil, touched base to thanked Ryan and let him know he was going to be OK.

    “It was pretty scary for him. A 53 year old with a young family, having a minor heart attack in the street. He’s now getting further tests after the hospital visit. Hopefully it all works out.”

    Ryan definitely shuns the hero tag. He sees what he did as something anyone could have, or at least should have tried to do. Ryan’s final thoughts on the incident are relevant to us all:

    “Why do you think people walked past? I just thought, if that was you, wouldn’t you want someone to ask if you needed help? So I guess, just don’t be that bystander, we need to do better.”

    After reading that, hopefully we all will.

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