What's Your Name?

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A stricken man. Two caring responders. One highly trained, the other not. Jessica Nussbaum has this Perspective.

Recently, my spouse and I saw a car drive erratically, albeit slowly, at an awkward five-way intersection in our neighborhood. I quickly saw what the other driver was seeing - a man lying face- down on a lawn nearby. My wife called 911 as I ran over to the man.

No, this is not a hero story. He raised his head and indicated he wanted to get up. While I was encouraging him to take it slowly, the young woman in the other car also arrived.

I am part of the Alameda Community Emergency Response Team. I keep my certification up to date. I have taken many CPR classes. I rushed to the scene thinking I knew what to do. But I learned a great lesson from the young driver who initially brought my attention to the scene.

As we tried to assess the man’s injuries, I was focused on his physical condition. “Do you want to sit?” “Can you stand?” “Conserve your energy...”.


And yet, this young woman, who was in a neck brace no less, asked all the right questions. “What is your name?” “Did you scrape your face?” “What day is today?” And the clincher for me - “Did you blackout?” Her questions were getting to the bigger picture; the overall welfare of the man, rather than the immediate physical issues I was focused on.

As we heard the emergency vehicles approach, she said she had left a child in her car. “Go.” I said, as I waved her away.” He is alert and the ambulance is coming.” As first responders and the man’s wife joined us, I was confident the man would get the help he needed.

But the moral of this story for me is that I have been humbled. The young woman in the neck brace taught me a valuable lesson. With all my training I still lacked the quick responses needed to ask those basic human questions.

I hope that if we find ourselves in situations like this, we have other caring souls around us - the first responders, the neighbors who come out to help, the person who dials 911…. and those who can ask the most important questions.

“What is your name?”

With a Perspective, I am Jessica Nussbaum.

Jessica Nussbaum lives in Alameda and is a business-to-business technology marketer.