Thursday, August 15, 2002

3 good Samaritans

Heroes? No - just good citizens

        Early one morning, Dr. Nadya Tsyplakova crossed Fourth Street, tripped and fell flat on her face.

        She went down head-first on the sidewalk and came to rest near a metal grate at the base of a tree by the entrance to the 4th & Race Tower.

        Her head bruised, wrist broken and system shocked, the 70-year-old was about to meet three good Samaritans.

        Their prompt action, quick thinking and compassion make me proud to be a Cincinnatian.

        Dr. Tsyplakova fell on July 31. But the Samaritans did not learn her full name or her condition — she's recuperating at home in Roselawn — until Wednesday.

        No matter when she fell, the story of how strangers came to her aid should be told. There is no statute of limitations on reporting about good deeds.

To the rescue

        Steve Taylor saw the doctor go down. His wife had just dropped him off for work. He oversees the computers in the art department of Sullivan Direct, a marketing firm in the 4th & Race Tower.

        “I got across the street as fast as I could,” Steve told me.

        “She was awake and talking.”

        He heard her use the word “doctor.” She pointed to her head and said “hematoma.” She held her wrist and said “broken.”

        She kept speaking.

        But not in English.

        Just then, Amy Uhl, one of Steve's co-workers, came around the corner.

        “Steve was being so gentle with her,” Amy said. “He treated her like she was his grandmother and picked her up like she was a baby.”

        Steve downplays what he did. He's a strapping 6 feet, 6 inches tall. He figures the doctor stands a foot shorter.

        “It wasn't that tough to get her up,” he said. “Then, we walked her into the lobby of our building and sat her down.”

        The more the doctor spoke, the more Steve thought it sounded like Russian.

        “Get Dmitri,” he told Amy. She went to fetch another co-worker, Dmitri Milov.

        An American citizen since 1998, Dmitri is a native of Grodno in Belarus, a former republic of the Soviet Union.

        After traveling 13 floors to the lobby, Dmitri started translating.

        “The minute he began to talk to her you could see the relief in her face,” Steve said.

        The doctor told Dmitri she came from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, where she worked for 25 years as an emergency room physician.

        She had diagnosed her injuries. And she started telling Dmitri what the paramedics had to do when they arrived.

        “I tried to explain that medicine works a little bit different in the U.S. than in Russia,” he said.

        People in the former Soviet Union dial 911 for help. But paramedics take longer to get there and, while well-trained, are not as well-equipped as their American counterparts.

No medals, please

        The good Samaritans are glad they could be of some assistance. But they don't see themselves as heroes.

        “I didn't help that much,” Amy said.

        “She was in trouble. And I was going to do what I could,” said Steve.

        “This has nothing to do with heroism,” Dmitri said. “Something inside me told me I needed to help. And not just because she was Russian. I would help anybody. No matter where they're from.”

        Amy's from Price Hill. Steve lives in Milford. Dmitri makes his home in Loveland.

        They didn't let their different neighborhoods, places in the chain of command at work or events in their busy lives get in the way of helping a complete stranger.

        What they did honors an old American tradition. Dmitri knows what it's called:

        “It's being a good citizen.”

        Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail



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