Yet another employment law dilemma in Poland has popped up in the media as we trudge towards the end of 2014. Not only Church vs State laws were stirring emotions (Church –v- State in Polish pregnancy dismissal claim) but also Saving Life – vs – Parking Properly was hot on the media agenda at the beginning of December.   

A 23 year old bus driver was just starting her early morning shift when she noted the only passenger in the bus collapse and fall on the floor. After calling for an ambulance, she started CPR immediately in an effort to save his life until the ambulance arrived to take over. The passenger may consider himself very lucky that while doing her bus licence the driver decided to take also a first aid course, and even luckier that she was courageous and determined enough to apply this knowledge in practice. Not that many of us would.   

The whole situation was recorded by the CCTV cameras in the bus.  You can see a small woman in a very narrow bus aisle giving CPR to an unconscious passenger. According to Wikipedia effective CPR involves chest compressions at least 5 cm (2 in) deep and at a rate of at least 100 per minute in an effort to create artificial circulation by manually pumping blood through the heart and thus the body. And imagine doing it for 15 minutes as the bus driver did! Those who have tried this (whether in health and safety training or in real life) will know that 15 minutes is more than most people could handle without requiring immediate medical assistance themselves – usually only 2-3 minutes calls for a change of life-saver.    

Whether thanks to the first aid training, the adrenaline pumping through her veins or simply her motivation not to have a man die on her, the driver saved the passenger’s life.  She was publically rewarded by the City Mayor and thanked by many ordinary passengers and city inhabitants as a credit to her job. Surprisingly, we have also learnt that she received a shouted warning from her line manager that after what happened she had been so traumatised that she had failed to take the bus to its regular parking place and park it where it belonged.    

Trade unions came to her defence. In this Public Transportation Authority, however, one rule is known to all – in order to protect passengers and other persons’ life, no driver is to drive a bus immediately after an accident as driving under such stress poses significant risks (not only in public transportation). Probably there is no express internal rule stating: “Do not drive a bus after giving 15 minutes life-saving CPR to a passenger” even though the shock and trauma could be at least as bad.  However, even in the absence of such a rule, you would hope that those who know how to save a life and actually do it will not be punished afterwards for not taking up their job duties immediately, for being human and feeling possibly more than slightly emotional and shaky afterwards.    

The Public Transportation Authority has promised to investigate the matter and take appropriate action against those guilty of such inconsiderate behaviour. Now that is called living under stress. Maybe there is another employee who should consider not driving…!  The consolation for the Authority is that this is far from the first time (nor will it be the last) that a transport official has so spectacularly lost sight of the bigger picture in favour of matters of procedure.  How about this example from Britain’s railways?