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Nairobians as good Samaritans

Almost everybody is aware of the phrase ‘good Samaritan’ and what it implies. It is the act of coming to the rescue of those in some danger, out of goodwill and without the intention of reward or compensation.

But the non-religious may be unaware that the phrase is attributed to Jesus, in the parable of the good Samaritan detailed in the bible. Jesus narrated the selfless rescue by a traveller from Samaria,in aid of a rivalstranger who had been beaten, robbed and left for the dead.

Now, Nairobi is not one of the safest cities. The risk of harm lucks in every corner, day and night. Never-do-gooders are on the prowl, often striking without warning. And there are countless traffic mishaps, amplified by reckless ignorance of traffic rules, lack of civility and common sense, not to mention driving under the influence of drink and drugs. The risk of the average Nairobian being involved in a life-threatening ordeal is pretty high. Can we rely on fellow Nairobians to come to our rescue?

The duty to rescue others is enshrined in law in many jurisdictions, Nairobi being no exception. Legal protection for giving reasonable assistance to those who are injured, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated is catered for. Such protection is intended to encourage a rescue culture, and reduce bystanders' hesitation to assist. If a victim is incapacitated, the response should always be: ‘peril invites rescue’.

But some basic rules apply when anyone comes to the aid of a victim, especially so in Nairobi. First and foremost, you must ensure your own safety. It’s no use turning yourself into an extra victim in misguided rescue attempts. An obvious example is entering a building on fire to rescue others without fire-fighting equipment; you are likely to head back out much faster, or not at all!In road accidents, take precautions to avoid other motorists ramming onto the rescue scene. Mugging victims are another story, it’s difficult to tell who’s also in the act. It may be a lure to mug you as well.

You also need some basic knowledge of how to rescue victims. Organizations should incorporate first aid training as part of generic qualifications. It’s a worthwhile investment, limiting inappropriate response that may cause further harm to victims, and potential liabilities.Any actions beyond basic rescue must await the arrival of paramedics in appropriately equipped ambulances. And let’s all give ambulances the right of way, minor delays can be fatal.

What about the right not to rescue? There is no formal statute that dictates legal penalties upon those who fail to rescue. This does not necessarily obviate a moral duty to rescue, social and ethical arguments should always prevail in rational goodwill actions. Even as Nairobians watch over each other’s health and safety, the county leadership must do its duty. Security must be enhanced, and law and order must be enforced.

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