Our Common Kindness


On a hot day in August, as I sat in a meeting in my Manhattan office, I heard a horrible accident occur on the street outside. Rushing outside, I saw that a taxi cab had jumped the curb and severely injured the legs of a young woman named Siân Green, who had been enjoying her first day visiting New York City. Amazingly, by the time I arrived at Siân’s side, passerby plumber David Justino had already whipped off his belt and applied it to her leg as a makeshift tourniquet. Dave’s quick thinking likely saved her life, and the title “hero” can’t begin to do him justice.

Witnessing the kindness and skill of people like Dave is often the bright spot in terrible tragedies such as this one. In my long career as a doctor, I’ve seen many good Samaritans, ordinary people with minimal or no medical training, serve as crucial players during emergencies. Dave, who had taken a first-aid class, didn’t hesitate one second before jumping into action. His innate bravery shows what a dramatic difference quick thinking, a little knowledge and a hefty dose of compassion can make.

Dave is an inspiration to me. His example reminds us all that we are not alone in moments of crisis. If you ever need proof of human goodness, remember the people who opened their doors or handed out free soup and sandwiches to people affected by Hurricane Sandy. Think of people who hurried to pull victims from the rubble after a building collapsed in Philadelphia in June. Look to the elementary school clerk who fearlessly talked down an armed shooter in Georgia before he could hurt a single student.

It can be easy to lose perspective as we find ourselves caught up in minor irritations and arguments throughout the day. But we must remember that when it comes down to it, kindness is our best defense against disaster, and absolutely no one is too ordinary to be a hero.

With the love and support of her friends and family, Siân has faced her challenging recovery with unparalleled bravery. Her resilience and perseverance leave us with no doubt that we will continue to see great things from such a strong woman.