Don't Fall Asleep
Had I not taken such a keen interest in diving, chances are that I would have never considered becoming an Emergency Responder. After all, how many of us have actually had to respond to a situation where a life is at stake? As such, I initially viewed the course as a means to an end. But as I first leaned over "Annie" and delivered 30 forceful chest compressions, I couldn't help but visualize people I cared about and suddenly began to take the course much more seriously. By the end of the day I felt somewhat comfortable taking the necessary steps to ensure Annie had adequate care while awaiting professional help. And I wondered if I could react calmly in a real emergency.
Sometimes in the afternoons, I hang out at the warung (food/drink stand) on the outside of the first curve of Jl. Padang Galak, the street along which my 8-room hotel/house sits. I've taken a great liking to the Balinese family that pushes the cart there each morning by hand from their home 2-3 kilometers away. Komang, the eldest daughter, has taught herself English, and translates so that I can communicate with her family and the occasional customer that drops by for a snack or a soda. As I sat there the day following my EFR course, I contemplated writing to you regarding the 78 year-old Balinese man that stopped by and narrated to me his abridged life story - one that included a visit in 1966 from an 18 year-old son he had never met.........but when a motorbike sped by, hit a large rock in the road and missed the curve where the stand sits, violently wrapping itself around a tree, the priority of topics changed.
I jumped up from my seat at the stand and accelerated from a walk to a jog. "I'm sure the person is OK," I thought. Perhaps he/she was catapulted into the rice paddy and is sitting among the frogs laughing. That'd be funny...but as I approached the scene, I found a middle-aged man lying on his side at the base of a palm tree in a state of shock; eyes fluttering and an outward creeping pool of blood surrounding his head. I naively yelled to a bystander: "Call for help!" Then I remembered a conversation with Mark several days prior, during which he explained to me that in Bali, there's really no one to call...
I leaned over the man and quickly recited the steps of the "Lifeline" in my head: "A" - airway open (yes); "B" - breathing (gasping, but yes); "C" - circulation (since he was breathing, yes); "D" - defibrillation (not necessary); "S" - shock management, serious bleeding management, spinal injury management (all three were necessary). Since I thought it likely that the man had a spinal or neck injury, however, I simply left him on his side, kept his head steady with my hands, and repeated to him: "Hang in there...You're going to be OK." The few minutes I kneeled there within a growing circle of local bystanders felt like an eternity, and as I softly spoke to him, I watched as the red pool beneath his head continued to swell. I looked at my glove-less hands and selfishly couldn't help but recall: "The three bloodborne pathogens of greatest concern to Emergency Responders are Hepatitis B, C, and HIV."
A pickup truck approached and the circle opened. Four men reached down, each haphazardly grabbing a limb, and I moved as a unit with them, keeping his head stabilized as they dropped him onto the bed of the truck. Then they were gone.
I walked back to the warung and kneeled for a moment. I was nauseous. Komang poured water over my hands as I rubbed them together.
An hour later, I was on my way to an all-night party in the mountains/forest an hour north of the beach with a couple of local friends. At around 11pm, after a long bath in the local hot springs, I laid down in a damp bungalow nearby. The deafening thumps of techno music began to resonate throughout the forest and I drifted to sleep.
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