To express the horror and grief I feel about the death of somebody I’ve never met. Never even heard of until today, as I was surfing the internet. Y’all might have heard of this story, but this is the first I heard of it.
Back on November 29, in the UK, a man by the name of Barry Baker suffered from chest pains and called emergency services. While he was on the phone with the emergency operator, he collapsed. The phone line stayed open, so the operator was able to hear what came next. Allegedly, when the EMT’s came into his house, the first thing they noticed was the mess. Some news reports say they (the EMT’s) were joking about the mess Mr. Baker’s house was in.
A police source said the ambulancemen were then heard over the phone discussing Mr Baker and allegedly saying “words to the effect that he was not worth saving”. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/4030456/Paramedics-arrested-after-ignoring-dying-man.html
I just cannot understand how two people could play god like that. How two people could decide, just because a man’s house was messy (and it was, there are pictures showing just how messy it was if you want to google it), just because he was disabled, that “it was not worth bothering to try to carry out resuscitation to try to save him” (also from the above link).
The fact that he was fat, the fact he was physically disabled and walked with canes following a hip replacement surgery, the possible fact that he was mentally disabled (I’ve only seen one place that said that) is all irrelevant.
He was a human being in need of medical help, and people who were trained to help him allegedly decided he wasn’t worth helping.
I look at this story and I think of my Uncle, who was born with Downs Syndrome. My Uncle is now 62. My Uncle is also fat. His weight gain came as a direct result of treatment for an overactive thyroid (they burned some of his thyroid away, which saved him from dying of starvation, even though he was eating as much as my Grandmother could force him to), but anybody looking at him wouldn’t know that. They’d only see a fat, disabled man.
Now, my Grandmother is still alive, and should she die before my Uncle, his welfare and care are taken care of. He gets the house and sufficient moneys to pay utilities and food set up in trust for him in her will, and anybody in the family (and there’s four of us who said we’d do it) who lives with him gets to stay in the house rent free. So he will be cared for. My other Uncles and myself will make sure he’s cared for and that he gets to stay in his home. And caring for him also means we will demand he be treated with respect.
The difference between my Uncle and this man is that my Uncle would have people advocating for him.
I know this isn’t the usual Friday post. But this is something that needs to be seen all over the world. People, no matter what their houses look like, no matter what their size, shape, bank account, ability or disability, deserve respect and compassion. From everybody, really, but especially from the people who are hired to give quality medical care.
Barry Baker died because, allegedly, two people decided he just wasn’t worth the bother.
And this is what you get when you create a division of people which is “not us.” All of the “us” (for whatever definition of “us” you use — rich, thin, intelligent, neat, clean, young, whatever) get to live and have compassion and respect. All of the “not us” don’t. It’s wrong, for any definition of “us” and “not us”.
Barry Baker was a human being who deserved a lot better than he received. I hope the courts in the UK make the harshest example of the men who decided he wasn’t worth saving that they can.
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