Jul 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

When Normal America springs into action

Bobby Shapiro, one of the heroes of Highland Park, at a memorial for victims of the mass shooting. Photo: Roger Schneider/AP

Here's an encouraging dispatch from Normal America: Neighbors from across Highland Park, Ill., sprang into action to help save lives after the mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade.

Why it matters: Before emergency workers arrived, the real first responders were everyday citizens. Nearly a dozen people — including off-duty doctors, nurses and a football coach — were among the first to administer first aid.

Between the lines: Finish Line has been highlighting Normal America — your neighbors and coworkers who spend their free time volunteering and raising kids, not tweeting or watching cable news.

  • They get less attention than the loudmouths. But when you think through the circle of people you truly know well, you'll find there are more helpers than hotheads.

This apt new illustration was captured for AP by Harm Venhuizen of Report for America, a nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms:

  • From bystanders who tied tourniquets and administered CPR, to people who rescued and cared for an orphaned 2-year-old covered in blood, many heroes at the parade ran toward the gunfire.

Among them:

  • Bobby Shapiro, 52, ran down Central Avenue in socks, trucking toward the street corner where gunfire had erupted just moments before. He had been changing out of his cycling shoes. Shapiro, a tech salesman with no medical training, began helping an 88-year-old man with a gunshot wound in his thigh and another in his abdomen.
  • He was joined by Dr. Wendy Rush, an anesthesiologist with decades of experience in trauma centers. Rush helped the man breathe. Shapiro and another bystander took turns compressing his chest and putting pressure on his wounds. The man, Stephen Straus, didn't make it.
  • Former high-school football coach Brad Hokin — who has been to the parade 52 times in his 58 years — was at his usual spot at the top of the route. When the shooting started, he took off running past those with minor injuries — and toward people he could tell needed help most urgently. With no medical training, he held pressure on gunshot wounds and helped EMTs load the wounded onto gurneys.

The bottom line: The aftermath in Highland Park would be even grimmer without the courageous instincts of those paradegoers — who instantly went from spectators to heroes.

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