‘Human nature’: bystanders spring into action in emergencies

When tragedy strikes, often times it’s not the first responders who are the first ones on scene.

In 2 separate incidents on Tuesday — a shooting at 26th and J Streets and a serious motorcycle accident on Highway 79 north of Raymond — bystanders were there to give aid before medics arrived.

"When someone has had a traumatic injury they can bleed to death before emergency providers arrive,” Public Safety Director Tom Casady said. “Someone stepping in and applying direct pressure can make the difference of whether a person lives or dies."

Casady says seeing others spring into action isn’t a surprise.

"Citizens that stop in and help are just very typical of what happens in this community," Casady said, and he added, Nebraska isn’t the only place.

Last week in Portland, two men stepped in to help when two women were being harassed by another man on a train. The suspect stabbed them to death, meaning 53-year-old Ricky John Best and 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche ultimately sacrificed their lives to help complete strangers.

"As unfortunate as that is, it has to feel good to know that your fellow human beings will step in and help when they have the opportunity," Casady said.

The type of emergency doesn’t matter either.

In March, two bystanders and an off duty sheriff’s deputy sprang into action when they noticed an apartment building on fire. A dozen people were trapped inside. The bystanders were able to save four people from the downstairs apartment and had already entered the second-story apartment to rescue the other eight before firefighters arrived.

"I’m sometimes amazed at the way people will jump in and put themselves at risk to help others,” Casady said. “[That] is my definition of a true hero is someone that put themselves at risk to help others when there is no gain for them at all."

Casady said he also believes smart phones and apps like PulsePoint have helped increase bystander responses.

More than 12,000 people are using the app in Lincoln.