How to call for help in emergency in crowd

How to Ask for Help in a Public Place in The Event of an Emergency like Accidents, assaults, and Heartattack?

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Have you ever observed in a spot of accidents, that people are surrounded in the spot is watching the event, but doing nothing? In psychology, this is known as bystander problem or group-bias.

The Story

In 1964, a young lady named Kitty Genovese was killed in the streets of New York. Her assassin chased her and stabbed her thrice. What was shocking was there were 38 onlookers, none called 911. This created a large debate about society’s moral degradation.

After that, the problem was thoroughly studied and found that in the case of public emergency, many times people simply do not know what to do and rely on other’s decision, who is, in turn, looking at others.

In any such emergencies including a heart attack:

Look for one face in the crowd, lock eyes, separate him from the crowd:

1) shout at him for help with authority, make sure the person locks eye contact.
Ex: Hey man blue jacket out there/ lady in a red scarf
2) Give instructions:- Please call police/ambulance.

Else even when you shout “Help”, no one may come forward, worst they may take a selfie.

Burn, Shawn M. “A situational model of sexual assault prevention through bystander intervention”, Sex Roles 60.11-12 (2009): 779-792.


Most of the people are followers, rather than the leaders. Taking even a small decision has its conscequences, and therefore people avoid taking decisions. You may observe this everywhere. In a car parking place, you may see that all the cars are parked in the same pattern of that of the first car. You may see that in a crowded place, when someone stands in a queue, the others just stand behind him, completing the queue. So, when you shout help, no one actually knows who should go forward, as there is a decision anxiety involved in this. However, when you lock eyes with one person and call for the help, the person’s empathy, and flight and fight mode is triggered and he immidiately gets into the action.


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Rupam Das

Passionate, Accountable Student for Life

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