While covering the Memorial Day services at Kennedy Park in Lansford on Monday, an elderly gentleman suddenly collapsed to the ground.
I turned around and watched as people rushed to his assistance.
Fortunately, two nurses happened to be among the spectators and were able to attend to him until the ambulance came (which took way too long, in my opinion).
As for me, all I could do was stand there, watch and pray.
Once again, despite my best intentions and desire to help anyone with anything that I possibly can, I was frozen in place, unable to advance to the person who needed help.
This isn't the first time that I have encountered it.
One day I came upon a terrible accident where the vehicle was flipped over.
I could see the driver's arm hanging out of the window, and all I could do was cover my mouth with my hands and look on in horror and pray.
I wanted so much to come to their side and help, if I could, in any way; but my legs just wouldn't move.
I did, somehow, manage to dial 911 despite my trembling hands, but that was it.
A man arrived on the scene shortly thereafter and asked me if I or anyone had checked the individual to assess their injuries.
I shook my head no and then pointed to another person who had come upon the accident and immediately went to the aid of the driver who, as it turned out, was already deceased.
Even though I felt tremendous sadness for the plight of the driver, I felt an incredible sense of shame for my failure to respond.
In an effort to be prepared to help in an emergency, I completed a basic CPR and first aid class a few years ago.
With proof of my certification and ability to be of help proudly tucked away in my wallet, I walked out of that course with my head held high and ready to be someone's hero if the need should ever arise.
But when push came to shove, I was nothing more than a stump; deeply rooted in the place in which I stood.
It takes a special person to be able to think and respond quickly and appropriately in an emergency.
That person certainly isn't me.
I can vividly remember the day when my dog jumped off the second-story porch and slammed onto the concrete below.
All I could do was cry and scream.
My husband was the one who quickly got her into the car to go to the vet.
I was useless.
I hope and pray that one of my loved ones never requires me to be the person to spring into action in an emergency situation.
I couldn't live with myself if my inability to act was to the detriment of someone I care about.
I have often seen stories of situations where someone needed help and people just stood by and did nothing.
I automatically deemed their lack of response as "disgusting" and "lazy" and chalked it up to people being apathetic or simply refusing to become involved because "it wasn't their problem."
While my assessment may have partially been correct, I know now that there may also be others who very much wanted to be able to do something about it but who also became "frozen" and who could only stand by and watch.
I don't know where this comes from or how to stop it, but I want very much to rid myself of this malady.
The last thing this world needs is one more bystander.