In 2006, after graduating from Humboldt and in anticipation of whatever adventures lay ahead, I took an intensive Wilderness First Responder course. Besides responding (and not resetting, despite the parents urging) when a kiddo dislocated her elbow during an after school recreation program, I’ve never needed to use my training and have forgotten most of it by now. A few days ago I was glad that I had the remnants of that training in my head.
I was on a songthaew one afternoon heading across town to meet up with some friends. There were also two tourists in the red truck with me and when we got to a street corner in Nimman one woman stood up and called out to the driver, through a small window in the top of the cab, “Stop here.”, then slid past me towards the back of the truck and the doorway.
The truck kept moving so her friend now called to the driver, “Stop here!” and stood up and turned towards the back of the truck to exit. Just then we heard a loud smack and, as the friend started to scream, I looked back to see the first woman sprawled out in the middle of the rain soaked road about 30 ft behind us.
The truck stopped and we all ran to the woman on the ground. She was unconscious and convulsing and her friend had two fingers in her mouth holding down her tongue. The woman suddenly stopped seizing and lay still. I could see from her stomach that she was breathing heavily, but her eyes were barely open and looked like they were rolled back. Her friend was now trying to shake her awake and all I could think was that her head should be stabilized. I mentioned this to her friend, but she was more concerned about waking her up so I knelt behind the woman and held her head still. When she came to she wanted to sit up, but I kept asking her to stay still and told her friend to hold her hand and to keep talking to her.
Meanwhile a concerned crowd had started to gather around us, wielding umbrellas to protect us from the rain, but after the woman regained consciousness all of sudden people started to get impatient. Several people asked us to move her out of the roadway so that traffic could get through. At this point a couple people mentioned they were doctors and advised against moving her, but offered no other help or comfort. I just kept insisting she stay put until the ambulance, that the songthaew driver had called for, arrived.
As we waited, the woman started to gag. As much as I didn’t want to move her, I didn’t want her to choke on her own vomit and I also didn’t want her to try to sit up so we rolled her carefully onto her side. It was a huge relief to finally hear the strange cry of the ambulance siren and to look up the street and see the flashing lights drawing closer and closer.
Here’s to a speedy recovery.