Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saving Lives!

In the ten years we have lived on Guanaja we have had two occasions to save an individual's life and two occasions to help someone in dire medical need!

I bring this subject up because just the other day (Sept. 22nd) my husband and I happened upon a situation that eventually saved a woman's life.
We were driving to Manati, a lovely restaurant where we enjoy German cooking, when my husband noted something in the water about 200 yards from the Cay of Bonacca and 250 yards from the main body of the island. In this photo, the individual would have been about 1/4th in from the right-hand side of the photo and between the Cay and the Island.At first he thought it was floating garbage but then he saw an arm come up. We turned the boat around and headed to check it out as there were no other small boats around. Generally, when the boys/men go out snorkeling for conch, they drag a small dory around by a rope tied to their ankle. This provides something for everyone to see so they won't get run over and transportation for them from one place to another.

As we approached the individual we noticed that she was taking about 4 crawl strokes, would then bring up her head, groan for about 20 seconds, put her head down and continue the cycle. Not knowing if she was danger or needed help I called out to her in Spanish asking if she needed assistance. I mean, who knows, maybe she was out for a swim. She never responded but continued swimming and groaning. We pulled up close to her and grabbed her arms and hauled her into the boat. She was a limp rag doll barely weighing 100 lbs. She continued to groan as she lay in the boat and was totally unresponsive. I noticed a yellow substance on her tongue and because her eyes were so out of focus and she did not seem to know where she was, we thought she might have been using drugs.

We headed for the Municipal Dock to find someone who might know her. The dock has a building on the end for water taxi's and it being a Sunday there were very few people there. The photo shows the dock when it is unloading supplies on a Friday and I use it to show the building at the end. There are a couple of steps at the front of the building and when we pulled up some people walked over. A woman recognized her (evidently Firmora was her name) and said she would go and call Firmora's mother who lived on the Cay. Another person and I lifted her out of the boat and placed her on the steps. We then moved her into the shelter as she could have easily rolled off the step. She was out of the sun and still totally unresponsive. The woman on the dock who had called Firmora's mother said she was on the way. We left as there was nothing more we could do.

We don't honestly know how this tiny woman (who we later learned was a drug addict) swam as far as she did and believe she was simply on auto-pilot. We are sure that in a few more minutes she would have been totally exhausted and drowned.

About a year after we moved into our home, my worker's daughter, who suffered terribly from asthma, had an attack. I was out in the yard when I observed her laying on the ground. She could not breathe and was frantic. Again, I gathered my keys and took off in the boat for town to see the doctor. She was so weak when we got there that I had to pick her up and carry her to the clinic. She was given a breathing treatment and an inhaler (which she had never had up to that time) and recovered. She still lives on the island, still suffers terribly from asthma but is doing OK.

Years after that, a young woman appeared at my dock screaming and yelling. I went down to the dock and found she was carrying a small child (about 10 months old) who was soaked. Evidently the little girl had fallen into the sea at her home which was about a quarter mile from our home. She found the baby in the water, face down, and said she gave it artificial respiration. The child was limp and unresponsive. I took the baby and you could hear the water sloshing around in its belly, which was very extended. I had the woman sit on the ground and hold the baby on its belly with its head down to try and get the water out. I ran up to the house and got some blankets and a pillow, my boat keys and flew back down the path. We wrapped the child and got in my boat and I took her to town to the clinic. The child eventually came to and recovered but went through a bout of pneumonia. I never did hear anymore about her and if she ever suffered any further medical problems.

Just about a year ago, while I was on the coast, my husband was sitting on the front porch when a man came stumbling up the path yelling in Spanish. My husband ran down the path to see what was wrong and found the man with a huge gash in the center of his forehead, bleeding profusely. Evidently the young man had been "chopping" with a machete about 1/2 mile from our house when the machete hit a barbed wire fence and came back and hit him in the forehead. He walked the distance to our house for help with blood pouring from his wound. My husband ran for his keys, gave the young man a compress to hold over his wound and indicated to him that he should press hard and keep pressure on the wound. He drove him to town, took him to the clinic and left some money for the doctor and any treatment he required. My husband never saw the man again, but heard that he was stitched up and was doing fine.

Thankfully all of these incidents had a good ending and no one died. It is rather frightening living in a secluded area as medical help is a distance away and there is only my husband and myself. So far we have been lucky and I hope that we never injure ourselves badly as we would be hard pressed to get adequate help quickly. So, we step carefully, enter boats with caution and do our best to remain accident free!
But for now, we are on our way to obtain much needed medicine from the other side of the island to bring back to our friend whose dog is a victim of brown tick disease and is doing very poorly. It's always something!

1 comment:

  1. That is incredible! It's even more incredible that two (probably three with the latest one) of the people you saved never came back to visit and/or thank you.