TonightÂ´s 10,000 person march by university faculty and students came to a somber stop just three blocks from the Plaza de Mayo. I was walking next to the front line of the marchers when I the procession came to a halt. Half-a-dozen people quickly surrounded a figure lying on the pavement.
Apparently, an elderly man attempting to cross the street – just in front of the marchers – collapsed from a heart attack or some other problem. When I got to the group, someone was administering CPR. Others were calling for a medic. Since I couldnÂ´t be of any help, I stepped away, not wanting to see what might have been the last moments of someoneÂ´s life.
Earlier in the night I had noticed a significant number of police on motorcycles ensuring that traffic was cleared from the route that the marchers were taking. Looking down Av de Mayo, I saw several police offers about a block and a half away. I had assumed that they would come down to handle the situation and call for rescue, but they never did. After a few minutes, I saw one of the marchers run towards the officers; I assumed he was wanting them to summons an ambulance.
I felt for sure that the old man was going to die there on Av de Mayo. It gave an eerie tone to the whole evening. While the front of the line knew what was happening, the thousands of people in the back had no idea what why the march had come to a stop. The marchers in the back were getting louder and louder as time went along.
About five, maybe ten, minutes after the man had collapsed I checked my watch since I was curious why an ambulance had not yet arrived, particularly since the police were so close and you see ambulances cruising around all over the city.
It took at least 25 minutes for an ambulance to finally arrive.
Also, rather than driving around the marchers and coming up the part of Av de Mayo that had been cleared from traffic in the opposite direction, the ambulance drove up from the back of the procession. The time that it took to go through thousands of pedestrians could have been fatal for elderly man.
I do not know, and may never know, the ultimate condition of that old man. Just before the ambulance arrived, I walked closer to the circle of people around him, which had thinned out. I feared that he would be lying there dead but he was conscious and I saw him move his head and hands. I wished I could have done something to help him but I have no medical or healthcare training. The ambulance took him away and sped off.
Incidentally, during this entire time, not one police officer ever came over to see what was happening – not even after the ambulance was there.