Sep 23

So this was a first for me, to call an emergency number.

I did my 10k run and headed for dinner, alone, at a coffee shop in Serdang called Boh Loong. Had my usual rice and veges.. YUMsss. Then just when I was about to leave.. *BANG! chiinnggg chiingg changg chaangg* Immediately, more than half of the people in Boh Loong very quickly stood up and everyone just walked out to see what had happened.

I personally didn’t see it myself, but apparently 2 motorcycles clashed with each other and somehow it hit one of the girls on the motorcycle and she fell off hurting her backbone. In pain, she could not even sit up properly and kept crying whilst holding her back. Instinctively many people crowded around her, some looking more concern than others, and some just waiting for it to be over because the commotion was blocking their car. Anyway, it was an interesting experience for me, and these were the few little things I got from this little incident.

1. I SAW what it meant by diffuse responsibility, yet it could just be shock.
The young lady who fell and was in pain, was not alone. Her brother was there, panicking, unsure of what he had to do, of what he even wanted to do. The obvious, probably most important and simplest thing he knew how to do, “panggil ambulance! cepat! tolong panggil ambulance!”. Legit, but if he wasn’t calling, no one around seemed like they were calling. Everyone just standing around, watching, some maybe tried to help, but everyone was focused on the girl, no one really seemed to be taking out their phones to dial an emergency number. Now I’m not too sure whether they were all in shock and didn’t hear the brother shouting, or maybe no one just wanted to do it, ie diffuse responsibility. So, looking at how no one was doing it, I called in. I guess I may also know why some people don’t want to call, because in such a moment of panic, the only contact number you can give the ambulance, is not the brother’s, rather yours. This also means that then, you would have to stay through the whole thing and wait for the ambulance (and we have heard our own stories of how long ambulances can take) then only we can leave, that is, if one is responsible enough.

2. Medical students (or any other healthcare professional) would make the best ambulance callers.
You may have heard all those stories of those on the line asking too many questions, sometimes not understanding what the caller is saying, sometimes taking too long to respond, etc. To my surprise, none of that happen while I was doing it! But as I was thinking of it, I think I figured out why. I knew exactly what needed to be said, I knew exactly what was needed, why? because as a medical student, I was able to assess the situation to my limited capacity but still able to provide the necessary details for them to understand the problem. At times they did say “tunggu sekejab ya”, and well, I don’t exactly know what they were doing or why they had to do what they do, still, it was not that bad that it would kill someone.

3. Cultural and Religious issues can be a hindrance, to a certain extend, we should understand each other to know what to do in such situations.
She was a Malay. Now I had some experiences whereby Malay girls do not have any physical contact with non-Malay guys (though I’m not sure about Malay guys). So, what do I exactly do? Honestly I still don’t know the answer. But basically the problem was that because her backbone was affected, I wanted to assess how bad the injury might have been and wanted to test her senses and movements of her lower limb and arms. But technically, I can’t, if I wasn’t allowed to touch her, or could I?

4. Work on all your languages!
So if I couldn’t touch her, at least I could explain it simply and tell her brother what to do! But, though on the phone with the ambulance I was surprisingly so fluent in BM, but somehow when it came down to “how can I help the girl”, I was lost for words. I tried getting words out of my mouth but I just felt like I was gagged. These 2 scenarios combined (religious consideration and language barrier), I looked like a random busybody standing around, looking here and there, and the only connection I had with the victim was that I called the ambulance. I felt so helpless!

5. Ambulance was actually, in a rush!
I didn’t stay on because someone offered to send her straight to the hospital instead of waiting for the ambulance (which the police was quite pissed while whispering to me, “betul lah, dah panggil ambulance, tunggu lah. Sekarang jika pergi, ambulance datang dan tiada orang, itu jadi masalah” and then he shakes his head). So after she got into the car, I had no more reason to be there, I left. Then just after I left, I heard the sound of the ambulance, then when I saw it coming, it was rushing, honking, winded down the window and shouting at motorcyclist to give way. And I mean, no matter how long sometimes it might take to wait for the ambulance (by that time it was already about 10-15 minutes after I called), give them the benefit of a doubt that they are rushing, that they too care for the patients they are going to pick up, that they too have a heart for the weak and injured, rather than just keep insulting them for being slow and late.

It was a nice sight as those working at the stalls that night would actually let down their utensils and come and help or at least see what they can do. Many people were just standing around and some started to help by directing traffic. Nonetheless, people just don’t stand around watching someone injured for fun, so I would want to believe that though they did not do anything then, if anything were to happen and in need of their help, I’m sure they will step up to it.

Thus was an interesting night, unfortunate for the girl though, but the fact that after awhile she could sit up, stand up and get into the car though still in pain, I’m sure she’ll be just fine. The other 2 motorcyclist who caused the accidents were just standing around in shock. But I kesian them la cause everyone just kept pointing at them as if it was solely their fault, but I think the police were relatively nice to them la.

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