THE good Samaritan may be going out of fashion, but a random act of kindness can go a long way.
For Ballarat’s Rachael Westblade, the kindness of a school crossing attendant put a positive spin on a harrowing experience when her daughter stopped breathing last week.
Her 11-year-old daughter Lilly suffered a severe epileptic seizure on the way to school on Geelong Road, near Damascus College on June 25.
“We were stuck in the car between three schools, it was extremely busy. Pulling the car over felt like the longest two seconds of my life,” Ms Westblade said.
Taking Lilly out onto the wet grass beside the road, Ms Westblade made all efforts to look after her until the seizure passed.
“I was doing everything I could possibly do at the time to get her airways open and as comfortable as possible,” she said.
“It’s one of those things that I know I’ve just got to do.”
Despite being a busy street on a school morning, she remained largely ignored by the dozens of motorists passing by.
“Everyone seemed to be too busy carrying on with their own lives,” Ms Westblade said.
“I’m not angry, it’s just genuine disappointment. It’s nothing to drop what you’re doing and help someone out.”
She directed her son Ben to call an ambulance while she watched over Lilly.
“He was a little lost and panicked, but he did everything he had to do,” she said.
“For a 12-year-old boy, he did a really good job.”
At that point, a school crossing attendant left her post to ask if any help was needed.
“She ran up and asked if everything was okay,” Ms Westblade said.
“At that point, I could see that Lilly was starting to breathe and made the decision then to cancel the ambulance.”
Turning to Facebook, Ms Westblade was met with a wave of support from friends and family.
“My immediate friends are all super supportive and would do anything for each other,” she said.
But she thinks the lack of assistance on the scene speaks of a larger trend.
“If you can’t turn to a stranger to help you in this day and age, then society has become a very different place,” she said.
“It’s sad that in Ballarat that’s what this has come to.”
Deputy Head of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne Professor Nick Haslam says a lot of factors can contribute to the lack of response for those in need.
“It’s often quite ambiguous, people have to interpret it as someone being in danger,” Professor Haslam said.
“They usually don’t want to be the first person to act. If no one else is responding, people take that as evidence that nothing is wrong.”
He added that people in a rush are often less likely to help.
“They’re more focused on themselves and might not even notice something is happening,” he said.