Accidents in Thailand: On the Road or Hiking in the Forest…
Accidents happen anytime. Never planned for and not able to be seen before they happen. They’re not logical. You can’t not wear your helmet because you think you won’t have an accident going a short distance. Many accidents happen on short trips.
Since being in Asia I’ve seen the results of many motorbike accidents… victims laying in the road still… nobody moves them… they are usually bleeding from some orifice, but not always. Sometimes you’d guess they’re sleeping. There is no attempt made by bystanders to revive the person or wake them if they happen to be just unconscious and not dead yet. I’ve not seen any efforts anyway.
After an accident, they linger around just standing by the person or persons that are dead or unconscious. They don’t look at the person and often times they are laughing softly.
The Thais’ have a culture that accepts death more easily than we westerners do. They believe it’s karmic fate – a Buddhist concept – and that if it’s time, it’s time. There is no sense worrying about when it will come -it will just come. This attitude is reflected in their driving. Many drive motorcycles or cars and trucks without regard to themselves or others.
In America, everything is more dramatic. If we have an accident there we have people screaming, we have 19 police, firemen, ambulance, onlookers… everyone taking part in the drama. The Thais’ just wait for a pickup truck to come and pick up the body or the unconscious person and take him/her to the hospital.
I spent a night in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a major hospital in the northeast of Thailand just a couple of months ago. I was there from 6 pm until 8 am the next morning. I was there because my American friend had a motorbike accident at 2 in the morning and ran into 3 Thai teenagers on a motorbike. Not sure what happened but witnesses said the 3 teens didn’t have lights on their motorcycle at the time of the accident. My friend went to the ICU unconscious and didn’t wake up for 6 hours. Anyway, this story isn’t about that.
So, sitting in his room in the ICU I keep seeing a dog come into where the patients are. One of the staff brought her dog to work as she usually did. In America, even unclean people are not allowed in the ICU. Usually, visitors can stay only minutes before being rushed out. Here my friend was in an ICU room with a dog visitor. Incredible. Then I saw a cat. No lie… Anyway – the animals stayed out of his area.
As I sat there that night I watched 4 people die on the tables. Particularly disturbing was a child, a girl about 9 years old. When she was brought in she was not breathing. She had a cervical collar on her neck and they were squeezing a plastic balloon to fill her lungs with air. Apparently, her heart was still beating because I could read the heart rate monitor and see when it changed. The HRM went to zero multiple times during their efforts and they switched from chest compressions and breathing help to just breathing help as her own heart began to beat. I could also see her breathing rate monitor and sometimes she was OK and sometimes nothing.
Sometimes her breathing was OK on her own and her heart wouldn’t beat… so they did chest compressions. They did this for 30 minutes until the doctor there told them to stop. The heart did not show any signs of improvement. They then used the electrical stimulation to attempt to start the heart, and tried multiple times – but nothing worked. The doctor then said “die”, took out a form and wrote down the time of death. They took her pulse in neck and wrist. They checked the monitor. Nothing for heart rate… but, the girl’s chest was still going up and down a little bit. The breathing rate monitor said 12 for a while after they stopped chest compressions… then 10…9.. 4… and then finally zeroed after over 30 minutes.
The mom, father and sister arrived just as they were pronouncing the girl dead… and they watched as the breathing slowed down to nothing. The mom was crying – but not sobbing. Just quiet tears and holding onto her husband tightly. The father cried lightly. The sister was in shock and didn’t cry just held onto the parents and looked wide-eyed at her sister covered over by the sheet.
Accidents are anytime and absolutely any place.
I drove to a waterfall 2 weeks ago. As we were just getting started across this open field we saw this house (see photo) with a tree that had fallen through it years ago. We then heard a loud ripping of something through the forest and coming down the hill. Just in back of us – 20 meters away was a large roundish boulder that shot out of the woods and flew across the freshly mowed lawn. Had we been any slower one of us might be dead…
So… wear your helmet. Use your belt. Take your kids to see an ICU ward or a mortuary sometime. Give them a taste of death… the hollowness… the suddenness… the unexplainable taste that will put the fear of caution in them.