Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Medical Response

I was eating lunch by myself at the Hawker Stand across the street from school. I was minding my own business, eating roti prata, when a crowd started to gather around a man. He was sitting in a chair, sort of slouched to one side, his chin to his chest. A woman was standing next to him, slapping his cheek to wake him up, but he just sat there, non-reactive with his eyes shut. A critical mass started to come around, so someone finally called the Defense Force (I guess they act as the medics over here, not a bad idea I think). Before the clean cut guys in uniforms showed up, a woman with a stethoscope was over the man, taking his heart rate (where'd she come from?!). Some of the guys standing around took the man from his seat, and laid him down on the ground. The woman then started to do a chest massage to the guy (the pushing part of the CPR process). No reaction still.

I couldn't really understand exactly what was going on because they weren't speaking English. Four people from the defense force showed up and started getting to work. They pricked his finger to get some blood. Put a pulse reader on one of his fingers. After a while, they put a oxygen mask over his face, and even decided to insert an IV into his arm. The whole process by them seemed to be somewhat disorganized. After about ten minutes of all this, some police officers showed up, and they collectively decided to lift him up onto a stretcher. Which again, wasn't a seamless process. They sort of paused when he was half way on the stretcher to take a break, before moving him entirely on there. Maybe his condition didn't merit it, but they didn't seem to be in any rush.

After this was all over, I asked the people at the Hawker Stand where I got my prata if they were going to do anything with the burlap sac they had sitting on some vegetable oil cans. They said they were just going to throw it away. So I asked if I could have it, and now I have another souvenir. I must note, I didn't take any pictures of the incident, I had left my camera at school. It might be for the better, because it forced me to write and interpret the incident myself, rather than passively accept digital capture of the moment.

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