OPINION COLUMNS

Are we experiencing technical difficulties?

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, November 7, 2015
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There’s been plenty written about how technology and social media have increased connections between the people we know and the world at large.

But I wonder if that has led to a decrease in human interaction?

Listening to the scanner 24/7 in the newsroom, you pick up on different things. I came to realize something this week.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Since pretty much everyone has cell phones, people who pass by a wreck will call 911 to report it (as they should). But in almost every case, the caller doesn’t stop.

Medics and fire departments are dispatched, knowing little about the number of patients, extent of injuries and so on. Many times an officer will get there first and advise if someone is seriously injured or not.

A week or two ago someone called in a wreck on U.S. 380 between Decatur and Bridgeport. The caller, who didn’t stop, said it was near the Devon office.

Medics, firefighters and officers all responded but couldn’t find anything.

Dispatchers received another call, this time saying it was near Weatherford College Wise County. Again, the caller didn’t stop.

First responders left again, heading farther east on U.S. 380. But once again, no wreck was located.

They even traveled down nearby roads, but no wreck was ever found.

Finally, after 30 to 45 minutes of searching and coming up empty, everyone returned to their stations.

I know there are times when you just can’t stop to help, but it seems like the number of people who stop to help their fellow man is decreasing. Or in the case mentioned above, stopping to see if there was a true emergency.

Luckily, that’s not always the case.

I wrote a story a couple of months ago about a Decatur High School student who helped perform CPR on a woman who had a heart attack at a local restaurant. When I talked to him and his parents, they said everyone else in the restaurant was just sort of standing around watching, like they didn’t know what to do.

A friend (who would kill me if I mention her by name) was in a store this week when she noticed a woman, someone she knew only in passing, seemed to be having some sort of medical issue. She ended up driving the woman to her home a few blocks away where she could call a family member to help her.

My friend then called to follow up on her later to make sure she was OK. The woman ended up going to the hospital to receive medical attention.

Thankfully, in those last two cases, someone noticed an issue and took action. But is such action becoming more rare?

I hope not.

In an era where we increasingly define our neighbors more by our Facebook friends than the people who physically live near us, I hope we don’t lose that human connection and willingness to help our fellow citizens.

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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