Monday, May 21, 2007

To Stop Or Not To Stop?

Year: 1987. Time:
about 6.00 pm. There was a commotion near a junction in
front of a school. I was on my way home
after work and the first in line at the T-junction. As soon as I turned out to the main road I
was waved over by a policeman. He
indicated to middle-aged woman lying motionless by the side of the road and
mumbled something. She appeared to have
been hit by a car, but there didn't seem to be any motorist around looking like
he/she was responsible for that accident.

Two male passers-by carried the woman to my car. One said if I hurried, I could possibly save
her life. My mind went over several
questions. How far is it to the
hospital? How long would I take? Will she survive? They said she was still breathing.

I told them to hold on.
I opened my boot and pulled out a large sheet of plastic to cover my
back seat. They laid the woman down and
closed the doors. I stepped on it for
the all that one liter engine Mazda Jumbo was worth. On the way the woman sat up suddenly. I had not expected that.

"What's happening?" She asked.
I told her what happened.

"Who got in an accident?"

"Where are you taking me to?"

Confused, she repeated the questions while I tried to
maneuver through the traffic and find the most appropriate answers.

I knew from personal experience that sometimes accident
victims don't realize what happened to them as soon as they regain
consciousness. I said as clearly as
possible what happened to her and where we're heading. I told her to lie down and not to move
about. She blacked out again when we
arrived. Two attendants came out of the
emergency section and carried her out of my car with the help of my plastic
sheet and loaded her onto a stretcher.
It was good bye to my plastic sheet.
I'll have to get a new piece for my boot.

When I got home I realized there were a few large patches of
bloodstains on my cushion covers. They
needed a good washing anyway, but I can't remember whether I got them washed or
threw them away.

Year: 1992. Time:
about 8.30 pm. I was on a dark stretch of road and it was
raining. Cold and hungry, I'd been
driving for more than 45 minutes on my way home. There was a single spot of light moving ahead
in the distance. It appeared to be that
of a rear lamp of a motorcycle. By force
of habit I checked my speed. When I
looked back to the road, the single spot of light suddenly disappeared. I sensed something wrong and reduced speed.

When I got to the scene I tried to find a way to drive
through. I wanted just to drive by and
get home, but my conscience didn't allow that.
I stopped my car in the middle of the road and flicked on my emergency
lights, hoping that traffic behind would notice and stop in time. There was a man lying on the road, eyes
closed, jaws clenched and limbs jerking.
I was helpless. I didn't know
what to do. I noticed a van with some
people in it on the opposite side of the road.
The driver was missing. The front
corner of the van was badly dented. I
asked if anyone had a handphone. Nobody
answered.  Handphones weren't widely used then as today.

Several men were carrying a girl from the side of the
road. She was wet from the rain and
covered with mud. They carried her to my
car. I barely had enough time to cover
the backseat with a plastic sheet which I pulled from my boot. I noticed her thigh, in her long pants, was
bent in an awkward angle. They bundled
her in and waved me to move on. We were
about twelve kilometers from the hospital.
I couldn't risk speeding in such weather. I kept thinking about the guy with the
jerking limbs.

Several minutes later, she asked me what happened. I told her.
I said we're on the way to hospital.
She asked me why we were going to hospital. I had to repeat several times until she
realized what had happened to her. She
said she couldn't move her leg and it was very painful. I thought it looked like it was broken but I
didn't tell her that. I kept
talking. I told her to lie still and not
to move. When she finally got it in her
head, she said thanks. I asked her about
the guy. She said he was a friend. She asked me what happened to him. I said someone else was sending him to
hospital. I didn't know actually, but I
had to tell her that. She blacked out
again when we arrived outside the emergency ward.

The next day I took out the back seat cushions and washed
out the mud stains.

I just read Palmdoc's Road Traffic Accidents: To stop or
not to stop?
which reminded me of the above two incidents. We are not all doctors. And given the notorious response of our
ambulance services (in this country), what would you do if you find that you
are the first to arrive at the scene of an accident? And if sending the victim to hospital is the
least you can do, would you? You
wouldn't want to hope for someone to return you the favor someday but no matter
how careful you are, you just can't foresee what can happen on the road.

Meanwhile blogger Kenny Sia got involved (in a way) in another
and had his ethics questioned by readers.

As for accidents on an expressway, that will be another
subject another time.


  1. what an experience! and it makes such great read.

  2. i read the kenny sia incident. i too think he shouldn't snap so much pictures. what do u think?

  3. You have saved lives Teh. Bravo.

    I remember when I was very young, it was 7:30pm weekday and my father wasn't home yet. My mother got very worried, for my father was a punctual man. We always could tell it was 7pm because the of the clanging of the gates. It turned out that he saw a very pregnant woman on the road, and she couldn't get a ride to the hospital. This was in the province and a very sleepy one. Public transports come rare in between by 6pm. Worse, she was on a road that was infrequently travelled, still unpaved and dusty. My father apparently dropped her off. My father is a man of few words, often a joker and rarely serious. But it was fortunate enough that fate would test him every now and then, and I knew him to be honorable with events like that.

    Another time, we were all going home. It was very dark but not past 8:30pm. On the dusty, bumpy road stood three teenage girls waiting for a ride. My folks told them to hop on our beat-up 1960s American army jeep. My father only said two sentences: "Where do you girls live?" and "You girls shouldn't be out this late."

  4. Thanks raknax.
    Kenny is almost a pro blogger and photographer. After he'd done his part as a caring human for the victims, he proceeded to his next priority. He's not a doctor, paramedic, fireman, etc.
    In such situations, different people react differently. I wouldn't judge him anyway. Being witness to such incidents can be traumatic. I don't think gaining fame was in their minds. Not part of the deal. Their reaction could be just instinctive. Remember Kevin Carter?
    After taking thousands of pictures of human suffering, I don't believe he ever saw this one as a prize winner. As a journalist, he just wanted bring what he saw to show the rest of the world.

  5. Thanks. But being hero wasn't even in my mind. I just couldn't get away. It's called 'civic duty'. If we ever get a chance to meet I'd like to shake hands with your dad.

  6. Good job, LC. I hope that drivers nowadays will still stop and help.

  7. I would rather be more careful nowadays. For my case, the situations were very clearly scenes of genuine accidents. Just keep alert and don't drive into a fake one.

  8. I like this one. Many fakes now a days with intention of robbery. I have never had experiences like yours. I tell you one incident though. Many years ago a Malay man came to my house and shouted for help. I went out to ask what he wanted.Those years people seems to be more honest and law abiding citizens. It seems her wife was due for delivery and he didn't have a car. It was past 12 mid night. My mind ran to and fro and I reluctantly agreed. I didn't have plastic sheet like you. Luckily nothing happened. She made a lot of noise in the car and on arrival at the hospital. The attendant with dark skin told her in Malay which sound something like - make love very happy .. give birth very noisy. When I was young I was a short tempered person and I responded more vulgar than her. I can't repeat the words. You can guess what come out of my mouth.

  9. hahaha... - great translation from whatever original. But the attitude was despicable. I would have given him an earful myself if I were you. BTW there are still some with that kind of attitude in public hospitals today, unless you know 'someone' inside.

  10. I will slap him if i am the women in pain that time!! Let's see what happen next!

  11. you're in pain, lying down on a stretcher...can do that ah?
    These people know they're in charge here. And after midnight if they have to get up and do some work (doesn't matter if they're on duty and it's their job) they're grumpy and irritated, so there goes the mouth before the brain...

  12. Do it after i deliver then! Tell all the "mother" in the hospital! Look for his manager! Send him a lawyer letter! Hope that he will be reincarnate next life to a women body! Do you see how "fierce" is a women nowadays?

    To ask all guys there, if you are the husband, what will you do?

  13. Actually i am crazy with this phrase only "make love very happy .. give birth very noisy." I don't think my husband will just let this type of person easy !

  14. I think with the husband there, the fella wouldn't have the guts to say anything like that...
    these blokes who have this kind of mentality only bully those who are helpless. Pity them instead...

  15. To ask lightlingmk2, wasn't the Malay guy - husband there with you all?

  16. " ask lightlingmk2"
    Her husband was there. But being a simple kampong folks, they were quite all the time. They thought a government servant was a VIP. The attendant was a big, fat, ugly woman. This dialogue is interesting - so many reactions. I have to agree with phoe... One has to react accordingly. Respect begets respect. By being nice to a tiger will be eaten whereas a kitten will love you.

  17. " this kind of mentality only bully those who are helpless" Right .. but only sacking her will deter others from doing the same. This kind of thing should not be present now or in the future. What the authority is doing .. still turning a deft ear .. don't tell me they don't know if everbody knows. "unless you know 'someone' inside " we don't have to know anyone - it is their obligation to serve ..only thing is we do not know our rights.

  18. Shame on her, as a women, i thought she was a man.

  19. Well, you should have heard the stories that went on about what happens in govt hospitals. That's the reason a lot of folks who can afford it opt to go to private hospitals to deliver.

  20. Agree on the surface. Deep inside not so good. Reason - people want to be rich by hook or by crook to get respect and comfort. Ever heard of a crook who said, " How much a doctor gets ? " The system should be changed to give credit to good citizen and despise the filthy rich.