Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another "What Would You Do?"

Today's "What would you do?" is based on this story (with a happy ending, thank God) out of Salem, New Hampshire.

Police: Woman Leaves Child In Car In 90-Degree Heat

SALEM, N.H. -- A Massachusetts mother may face charges after witnesses saw her 3-year-old child left in a car during 90-degree weather, police said.

Salem police said they received a call at about 2 p.m. Tuesday that a child was in a car in the parking lot of a Babies R Us store. The windows of the car were slightly cracked, police said.

"We got a call from a woman walking through the lot at Babies R Us," Lt. Ron Peddle said. "She stated that she noticed the child in the vehicle."

Police were in the area and said they responded quickly and found that the woman had returned to her vehicle. They said the child appeared to be in good condition, and they decided not to take the child into protective custody.

Your scenario is much the same:

You're in a shopping mall parking lot, walking toward the mall, when you notice a child locked in a car with the windows "slightly cracked".

It's 90 degrees and sunny.

You knock on the window and the child is unresponsive.

For the sake of argument, you have a cell phone with you and a tire iron in your vehicle that can be used to break a car window.

What would you do?

Here's my answer.

First, I'd call 911 and give them as much information as I could. In addition to getting emergency medical personnel dispatched to the scene as quickly as possible, this will help document the incident.

While part of me would want to smash the car window right away to get the kid out, I'd want the police to be aware of what I was doing, so that when the call comes in from the person two rows over reporting someone breaking into cars at the mall, the police will already know what's up.

Or else, tomorrow's headline might read:

Man Arrested Trying to Abduct Toddler From Car

No thanks.

While on the phone with the 911 operator, I would tell him that unless I see a police cruiser or ambulance approaching in the next 30 15 seconds, I'm breaking the window.

I don't know what the response from the operator would be. In a just world, it would be something along the lines of "What are you doing wasting time talking to me? Break the window already."

On the other hand, you could get the type of 911 operator who directs people to put their guns away while they're holding a couple strung-out, carjacking methfiends at gunpoint. Something tells me the "Please, do nothing, sir. Professionals are on their way." response wouldn't go over to well with me.

Regardless, I'd be breaking the window. As the saying goes, when seconds count, help is only minutes away. And, if this wouldn't qualify as a "seconds count" scenario, I don't know what would.

Beyond opening the car and ensuring the child stayed in the shade, I'm not sure what additional steps I'd take as I wait for the paramedics to arrive.

This, of course, could bring us to Scenario #2:

The child's mother returns from the store to see you reaching into the door of her car where her child was sitting.

She sees the shattered glass and the tire iron on the ground.

She has a Glock 26 in her purse hand.

Now, what, Mr. Samaritan?