Monday, July 19, 2010
When a Professional Turns His Back
A spokesman for the FDNY said members "take an oath to assist others whenever they are in need of emergency medical care. It is their sworn duty."
That was the last we heard about that horrific story until today. Jason Green, the EMT who refused to help, was fatally shot near a New York City nightclub last night. Police believe the shooting was unrelated to the coffee shot incident.
There is no question in my mind that those of us who have a skill that can potentially save lives, should never be "on a break" in life. See my prior post on Good Samaritans and the risks involved. I also wrote about helping a man on a flight I was on. Surprisingly, not every health professional feels this way and apparently these paramedics felt their coffee break was sacrosanct time.
Altruistic behavior is found throughout the animal kingdom and is thought to have a genetic link. Are we hardwired for altruism or for selfishness? One study showed that altering a single gene in a species of bacteria turned resource "cheaters" into cooperative organisms. And environmental stress promoted a genetic change that favored cooperation.
It is a complicated subject and I've never seen a study on health care professionals and their Good Samaritan or altruistic tendencies. It would be interesting to see if people act in ways that are congruent with their views on being a Good Samaritan, or if they chose to take their coffee and leave when the chips are down.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:35 AM