How far would you go to help someone.

Nurses General Nursing


I have been keeping up with the news regarding a male Virginia Tech cutting off the head of a female student right in the middle of the student center. All the bystanders ran and hid and someone finally called 911. No one came to the aid of this woman and no one did anything to try to stop him. He had her down on the floor cutting her head off, then got up and was walking around with her head. He had no other weapon but this knife. What would you have done? Would you have done anything to try and stop him?


385 Posts

Specializes in Derm/Wound Care/OP Surgery/LTC.

That would be a severely traumatic thing to watch. It doesn't surprise me that no one came forward.

I would call 911 without hesitation, however, I have to be honest. I don't think that I would confront a madman like that. Selfishly, I have children to think about. I am the only mother they have. I can't put myself in harms way like that. Now, if the girl had only been stabbed...I wouldn't hesitate to try to get to her and drag her back to safety if I could.

I have pulled off the side of the road for MANY car accidents in my life just to make sure people are okay. But, I don't think I could put myself between this man and his carving knife. I know that sounds terrible...

My husband, however, would confront this man in a heartbeat. I know that.

Maybe that makes him a better person than I am.

bill4745, RN

874 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER.

If I could find a chair or something else to use as a weapon I think my instinct would lead me to attck him.


1,465 Posts

Well, I'm one of those that would do something...which irritates my husband to no end. ;) But there is always something that can be done - even if it is only calling 911. In this case I guess I would really feel obligated since this girl was probably my kid's age and I would hope someone would help them.


1,465 Posts

If I could find a chair or something else to use as a weapon I think my instinct would lead me to attck him.

I was thinking the same thing. Heck most of the backpacks we have to carry for school would do some major damage.


1,905 Posts

Well, legally, I cannot see the other students having any problems. Morally, the decision is not really up to me.

However, I find there are three general types of people when this kind of stuff happens:

1) Cut tail and run away types

2) Fence sitters who may act if galvanized by a strong personality

3) People who act and lead

It is an interesting conundrum, we as a society love violent movies and love the entertainment these situations bring on the big screen; however, run away when an actual situation occurs. Fight or flight anybody?

People's actions will depend of the makeup of the group and the type of situation IMHO. For example, a shoplifter lost the plot in my town a few years back and shot a little kiddo. The people in the store swarmed the attacker in a rage and beat him within inches of his life.

The "shock" factor may apply as well. I do not consider my self a coward, and have several years of military experience to include several "tactical" types schools. However, none of this truly prepared me for my experiences overseas. I remember I was doing some admin work when I experienced a feeling not unlike being in an earth quake, our doors and windows rattled themselves to near destruction, I was in fact shocked into inaction for several seconds. In fact, I did not initially realize what had just occurred until our country manager, an old grizzled South African commando took command by stating "IED (We later fund out a guy packed his taxi with explosives and took the last train west.), people up top to find out where it went off, people on communication, and people prepare the ambulance units for primary response." I was on the primary response EMS team and was fully prepared to respond into the "hot zone" of this explosion if need be. I was not terrified per-se, I was just initially "stunned" and not sure how to act. I did not even realize what had occurred initially.

It is hard to say what exactly I would have done in this incident. Several people swarming the guy while smashing their chairs over his body could have worked in a pinch. However, I was not there and simply cannot say.

It is too bad these people did not rush this guy as a group and stop the incident.


472 Posts

I havn't yet heard about this incident. How appalling!!!!!!!!! Maybe if someone would have bum rushed him, others would have joined in to beat the **** out of this freak. So SAD!!!! I would have tried, but hopefully I would have had help!


1,905 Posts

I havn't yet heard about this incident. How appalling!!!!!!!!! Maybe if someone would have bum rushed him, others would have joined in to beat the **** out of this freak. So SAD!!!! I would have tried, but hopefully I would have had help!

Unfortunately, could you expect your fellow students or co-workers to back you up? In the sand box, I lived every moment with my colleagues and had no doubt that I could trust them; however, the average Joe or Jill US citizen, not so sure there.

JB2007, ASN, RN

554 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Med-SURG,STICU.

I honestly do not know what I would do in this type of situation. Hearing about these kinds of incidents just makes me wonder what kind of world we live in. It also scares me to death that my children will be college age in a few short years and the world just seems to get more and more cruel. I thing I need to get them into some sort of self defense classes because I just can not imagine what things will be like when they are adults. Sad really.

diane227, LPN, RN

1,941 Posts

Specializes in Management, Emergency, Psych, Med Surg.

I would have, without any hesitation at all, taken a chair, mop or broom handle and starting beating the s------ out of this guy. He did not have a gun, he has a knife and I guarantee you that I would have been all over this guy. If I had my gun on me I would have shot him. I would have done something to distract her from him so that now instead of focusing on cutting her head off, he would have to be worried about defending himself. I would have beat this guy to a bloody pulp. I could NEVER stand by and see anyone to this to another human being without taking some strong action. SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING.

RNperdiem, RN

4,592 Posts

I hope I would do the right thing, but I cannot know until I am in that kind of situation.

Nurses and others who work in emergency situations develop the ability to react and perform in emergencies.

As a new nurse, I froze when a patient coded, but with experience, I learned to think and act and not panic.

I would hope some of that ability would carry over to other situations.


205 Posts

Specializes in mental health.

I would have ordered him to put down the knife. If he didn't I'd have shot him and suffered the consequences of the "no guns on campus" rule.

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