It’s half past three.
Thirty minutes ago the tram I was on hit a woman as she was crossing the road. She lay on the road, bleeding profusely. I am a first aider and I had no idea what to do or say. Thankfully I was not the first person to reach her – a pharmacist (lekař) got there first. She knew what to do to help the woman, kept her calm and knew what words to use. The ambulance arrived within five minutes, and the replacement bus to continue our journey arrived soon afterwards. I do not know what state this woman was in when the ambulance arrived as I thought that three people helping her was enough, and an unqualified foreigner who didn’t speak enough of her language wouldn’t help.
I did my first aid course in early July last year, and it was sufficient for summer school aches and pains, and even a minor head injury when one boy fell while running down the stairs. It did not prepare me for this and all I could think was “I should know what to do”. As soon as I get back home I plan to book a refresher course to get up-to-date again, as it’s amazing how quickly you forget (use it or lose it).
The helplessness I felt, even knowing some of the language, is enough to make me go home and find out simple phrases like “Don’t worry.” “The ambulance will be here soon.” Anything to make her feel better.
I hope she survives.
In twenty minutes I have to start a two-hour lesson. I am writing this to help me deal with witnessing this. I don’t know what else to do.
One of the things it made me realise is that we worry about our students and their attitudes coming into class, but what about the teacher? Krashen’s Affective Filter covers the students’ learning, but what about the teachers’ teaching? I don’t ever remember being told how to approach a class when something like this has happened. I’m shaken up, but not enough to warrant cancelling the class. I have taught this group for two years and am coming to the end of my time with them – it’s not fair to them. But I think I will spend a couple of minutes at the beginning of the class telling them what has happened so that they know why I am upset. I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, but I’m a talker, and I want to get it out of my system (I know how callous that sounds). This writing is one way of doing that, but until I speak about it I won’t feel any release.
What would you tell a teacher in a similar situation?
Should you share these things with your students?
If you have never done a first-aid course or don’t know how to say some simple comforting phrases in the language spoken where you live, I would recommend you find out. And I hope you never find yourself in my situation, and even more fervently, that you are never the victim of what happened to that poor women.