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Calls for help. Gestures, signs that can save lives. The most important reaction

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A simple hand signal, a discreetly handed over card with a call for help, a hidden letter – signs of this type, thanks to the appropriate reaction of witnesses, have saved life or health many times. Hidden requests for help can take many forms. What to pay attention to and how to react?

On Saturday, one of the drivers on the S5 expressway near Trzebnica noticed a teddy bear and a note attached to it with the inscription “Help” through the window of a speeding BMW. Concerned by this sight, the man called the police. Although it turned out that the BMW driver did not violate the law in any way, and the card could be a joke, the officers emphasize that the reporting party’s reaction was correct.

– In this story, first of all, attention should be paid to the correct behavior of the applicant, who, concerned about the whole situation, notified the appropriate services – they admit. However, there are more such stories, and discreet requests for help have saved the lives or health of people in need many times. Such requests for help can take many forms, but the most important thing is always the proper reaction of witnesses.

The gesture of calling for help

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In 2021, the media circulated information about a 16-year-old from Asheville, North Carolinawho managed to save from the hands of the kidnapper thanks to the intervention of a passing driver. The man noticed her gesture referred to as “signal for help”, i.e. a gesture to call for help. It is performed by showing an open palm with the thumb bent, then a fist is closed by closing the finger in it.

According to the teenager’s later account, the kidnapper managed to transport her through four states before she could attract anyone’s attention. The same gesture, which she had learned earlier thanks to videos from social media, was to be shown many times during this time. However, it was only after two days of rehearsals that the driver next to him actually understood its meaning. The man immediately notified the police and the girl was released.

The gesture of calling for helpCanadian Women’s Foundation

SEE ALSO: A discreet call to the rescue. A sign signal to help victims of domestic violence

Card asking for help

It happens that discreetly handed over a piece of paper is used to call for help. This happened in the case student at one of the schools in Odessa, Texaswho in May sent a message to the school bus driver with her home address and a plea for rescue. After receiving it, the driver notified the police. Although the officers did not know what was behind the child’s request, they went to the indicated address. Upon arrival, they discovered that the partner of the child’s mother had used violence against the woman the previous evening.

Also thanks to a note less than a year earlier, Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress from Orlando, USA, saved one of the children staying in the restaurant. The woman noticed the boy who was sitting far from his parents and sister, had nothing to eat or drink, and bruises and scratches were visible on his body. So Carvalho wrote down some questions on a piece of paper, and then began to show them to the boy so that his relatives would not be able to see them. The boy nodded that he needed help. The police were called to the spot. As it was established, the 11-year-old child was repeatedly tortured. He was also regularly denied food and drink, as a result of which he was twenty kilograms underweight.

The police showed a picture of Flaviane Carvalho’s messageOrlando Police Department

SEE ALSO: A ten-year-old escaped from a kidnapper. “Pretend you’re my mom, this lady is following me”

Witness reactions

Sometimes the vigilance and lack of indifference of witnesses allows you to help even in situations where the needy person is unable to convey a request for help. In 2011, Shelia Fedrick, an Alaska Airlines stewardess, helped save a teenage girl who had fallen victim to human trafficking. As Fedrick reported, during the flight her attention was drawn to a pair of passengers – a girl who looked “like she had been through hell” and a well-dressed man sitting next to her.

Alarmed by this sight, the stewardess decided to act. She left a note in one of the toilets asking if the girl needed help. She then walked over to her and whispered in her ear to go to the restroom during the flight. In this way, the teenager posted a reply on a piece of paper that confirmed the suspicions of the Alaska Airlines employee. This information was passed on to the pilot, who in turn notified the police. Officers arrived at the airport and apprehended the man immediately after the plane landed.

A similar situation occurred on May 16, when the sight of two passengers also aroused the suspicions of an American Airlines stewardess. The woman did not decide to react directly, but reported her suspicions to the services, which detained the travelers immediately after landing. In this case, it turned out that the American Airlines employee’s fears were unfounded – the couple turned out to be a father traveling with a 13-year-old daughter. The couple, no longer disturbed, were apologized and released from the airport, but the vigilant reaction of the stewardess was correct.

SEE ALSO: He flew with a 13-year-old girl, he was considered a human trafficker. “I thought that’s what dad and daughter do when traveling”

Letters of appeal for rescue

Often appeals for help do not concern only individuals, but entire groups in need. In November 2022, the media circulated the content of a letter describing the conditions at the reception center for migrants in Manston, England, thrown over the fence by a girl inside. A card asking for help was sent to journalists. “Fifty families have been staying in this building for 30 days, we do not feel very well and live in difficult conditions. Some of us are very sick” – stated its authors. “We want to talk to you, but they won’t let us go outside (…) We need your help very much, please help” – they added, addressing media workers directly. The letter turned out to be effective, and the situation of migrants in this center became one of the main topics in the British media in the following days.

Similar requests for help were sent around the world, among others. Asian factory workers. She found one of them in April 2014 in a newly purchased fabric shopping bag by Stephanie Wilson. “Help, help, help! We are being mistreated and working like slaves 13 hours a day making these bags in a prison factory,” the small note read. It was donated to a defense foundation human rights in Chinese prisons, thanks to which journalists reached the author of the letter. In a two-hour telephone conversation, he revealed the circumstances of writing the message and described the difficult conditions in which he was forced to work.

Similar message written on a Christmas card bought in a supermarket, was discovered in 2019 by a six-year-old from the UK. The case was highlighted. As a consequence, the chain of stores decided to initiate an investigation and, as a result, stopped cooperation with the factory where the card was made. A few months later, a similar story happened in Poland as well. A resident of Barcin discovered a mysterious letter asking for help hidden in a pocket in one of the discount jackets. The letter, written in Chinese, also turned out to be a call for help, and thanks to the inclusion of a phone number in it, the author’s wife was contacted.

SEE ALSO: The abducted children were found a year later in a supermarket

Main photo source: Orlando Police Department/Shutterstock



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