Keep this Good Samaritan checklist in your head as a script you can quickly run through in case you come upon a situation where you might be compelled to act on behalf of a stranger in the public space. If you have sufficient self-defense training and are prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones, you might also be capable of getting involved in a situation where someone you didn’t know prior to the event is in trouble and you might be able to help.
Being a Good Samaritan can become complicated, as this first-hand account illustrates, so before you take any action on behalf of a stranger, ask yourself these three questions:
1. “Do I really know what’s going on?” Make sure you are not about to interject yourself into a situation where the person you thought was the victim actually was the instigator. And don’t butt in on a situation that involves law enforcement, for example a plainclothes security or police officer engaged in their duties and you mistakenly think they’re the bad guy.
2. “Can I actually make this situation better?” You don’t want to put yourself into the middle of a situation that may de-escalate on its own, or one that hasn’t risen to the level where you need to intervene, or one that is now beyond your capacity to make it better.
3. “What’s the least I can do?” What is the minimal way you can get involved in a situation and influence it for the better? Perhaps standing at a distance and telling someone they’d better stop what they’re doing, or calling 911. Stay out of harm’s way and influence the bad guy to stop his actions.
The answer to question #3 may change as the scenario develops and the definition of “the least you can do” fluctuates.