Tuesday, 1 August 2017

It's not about YOU all the time...

Imagine for a moment that you're having just a normal, boring day. Perhaps you're at work, perhaps you're at home, or maybe you're out shopping. And on this bog-standard, boring day, you discover the badly mangled body of a person. Yes, someone died, in a very gruesome manner, and you find them.

What do you do? Do you call 999? Do you stay until the emergency services arrive on scene? Do you run away? Or do you sit rocking back and forth against the wall, too shocked and saddened to function? Again, what will you do? How will you behave?

Imagine you were on your lunch break, when this happened, and now you have to return to work. How will you cope? Will you be able to function? Will you tell your boss that you're too traumatised, and ask to go home? Will you tell co-workers all the detail?

OK, now imagine you're a police officer, responding to a serious car crash, and you get there just in time to hold the hand of a dying person. Imagine that there's carnage around you, and some bodies have been pulverised into a mess that's hard to think was a human being until but a short time ago. Imagine you've been giving CPR to someone, until the paramedics arrived, but despite your best efforts, you watch that person die.

Now imagine this - the fire service arrived on scene, as have the paramedics. As a police officer, your duties now change to traffic management. Due to the seriousness of the crash, the road will need to be closed. This is to allow the emergency services to operate safely, to allow the injured to be treated, then taken to hospital, to allow crash investigators to try and piece together the cause of the crash, to allow specialist teams to remove the bodies, perhaps to allow Highways to repair damage to the road surface, and finally, to clear debris from the road.

Naturally, road closures cause significant disruption, and you're faced with many angry drivers. Imagine one (or more) yelling that you're wasting their time, that they have *impostant* things to be getting on with, and that you should stop just standing around and instead go catch criminals. All while you're still trying to deal with what you've just witnessed.

How would you react? Would you lose it with that driver? Would you start crying? Would you quit your job?

Imagine going home, at the end of that long day. Would you want to offload onto family members? Would you look to them for comfort, or perhaps distraction? How would you cope with what you've seen and experienced, especially knowing you may well encounter more of that the next day?

Chances are, you're not a cop. Chances are, you'll never have to deal with the scenario I painted above. But the chances are that you may well be a driver caught in the front of a queue of traffic, on a road that's just been closed, watching a police officer seemingly idly stand around with not a care in the world.

How will you react? What will you do? Will you have a go at that copper doing their job - even if their job is to simply stand there, ensuring nobody gets past?

Next time you're caught up in a road closure, think about what's actually happening in the background. Be grateful that copper is there to prevent you from having to see the carnage. Be grateful you're safe, in one piece. Yes, you'll be late, but in the bigger picture, is that really such a big deal? Think of the family and friends who will be told their loved one is no longer coming home, then think of your loved ones.

Next time you're having any interaction with a police officer, bear in mind that they may well have experienced such a scenario shortly before you encountered them, and cut them some slack? Yes, they're trained, but there's no amount of training in the world that can completely shield you against the lasting affects of such carnage.

Next time, smile at the copper, and ask them if they're OK. Next time, be more human.