I love here how Robert Cialdini explains the best way to call for help in an emergency.
Because heaven-forbid you mess it up trying one day and nobody pays attention to you.
See, this is a worry because of the way that social proof works.
“If thirty other people are watching and still not acting – maybe I should just walk on by too.”
The best example of this is when you are in town and see a fire or a car accident. You marvel for a second, maybe hope everyone is ok, and then what do you do? You keep right on going.
Naturally, it turns out this behavior is more common in urban areas.
The rationale being that in the city everyone assumes someone else is taking care of it. Rural people, however, often immediatly know they are the only witness.
So if you are having a stroke or heart attack, or what have you, in a big city, don’t leave a life or death matter up to a possible misunderstanding. Call for help with spcificity.
Cialdini recommends: “You, sir in the blue jacket, I need help. Call an ambulance.”
Your need is specific. And you have put the burden of help on one person without ambiguity.
And that’s your best shot.
In general, then, your best strategy when in need of emergency help is to reduce the uncertainties of those around you concerning your condition and their responsibilities. Be as precise as possible about your need for aid. Do not allow bystanders to come to their own conclusions because, especially in a crowd, the principle of social proof and the consequent pluralistic ignorance effect might well cause them to view your situation as a nonemergency.
-Robert Cialdini, Influence