Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What an eventful evening it was

Meera (my wife) and I bought a new cycle, a gift for our daughter turning 9 today and both returning back home from Yelahanka new town. It was around 8.25 pm and I was driving the car.  I noticed someone lying flat on the footpath near the Kendriya Vidya (KV) school on the Doddaballapur road. For a flash of a moment, I thought he was drunk and fallen down but within another wink, I also saw a bike lying next to him. ACCIDENT!! 

It was bit dark and the street light was very dim on that spot.  That stretch of road didn't have anyone other than us. I pulled over the car, asked Meera to follow me and started sprinting towards the victim. I wanted to save him.

When I reached, I saw the man with bloodied face and a huge bump (swelling of a tennis ball size) on his forehead above his left eye. His eyes were partially closed. There was blood all over his face. My mind was rushing for a solution and I wanted to first assess the situation. He was not drunk. There was no bleeding. I started tapping his shoulders by screaming him to wake up. Was he breathing? I checked his chest movements and couldn't find any movement. Oh my God! how can you put this man in this situation? how am I going to handle this? will I be able to save him? what if he was already dead? there were many thoughts running through my head.

At the same time, I shouted for help and asked Meera to call the ambulance. I also dialed 100 on my phone, kept it on the speaker phone in my pocket while I continued to shake him up. I was able to connect to the police control room immediately and spoke to the operator, started describing the accident and the location and called for help.

My mind was constantly telling that this man was not breathing and I should attempt the next step. RESUSCITATION! I have no clue on when he fell down.  He was probably knocked down by a speeding car.  I couldn't assess how long he has been lying down like this. I was thinking that if this man was not breathing then I must make an attempt to give CPR. It was a big decision to make. I was only trained on a dummy once, just last Saturday, and I wasn't sure if I will be able to to perform a CPR on a human who is presumably clinging on to his life. Or probably he is already dead. Or probably his body is preserving energy and he is fast asleep. While my mind was filled with all such thoughts I was continuously tapping his shoulder and shouting to open his eyes. Within 5-6 taps, all of a sudden, I heard a "puff..." sound from the man's mouth. It was the most miraculous experience for me. I found this man was alive and trying to move his eyelids. He was barely able to open and his eyes were covered with blood and dust - possibly from the fall. HE WAS ALIVE AND BREATHING!

I continued to shout for help and within seconds, Meera was able to get through the Ambulance emergency. She too narrated the scene and was screaming for help. By that time, there were few passerby bikers and cars, few curious and few wanted to support, that place was suddenly crowding and I was there, in the center of everything. 

Someone was checking his pockets to look for his identity. There was another found his broken cell phone scattered next to him and he was looking for some numbers to call. There was another man turning on his cell phone torch light to bring some light to that place. Someone was sprinkling water on him. There were suddenly so many helping hands extending at the same moment.

I kept one hand below his head and I was continuously taking to this man, assuring him that he was doing fine and he was going to make it. I also asked him to tell me his name. He opened his eyes and was responding....through the tiny opening in his mouth, he said something. I thought I heard it as "Anand"... With my broken Kannada I was screaming, "Anand, nothing happened to you, it's just a small accident and you will be alright!" There were many others bending down and providing their assurances to Anand. I asked Anand to smile. Anand smiled. It was a magical one.

I received another phone call from the police control room and the lady assured me that the ambulance was already dispatched and would arrive in few minutes. She also said a police too would come there. There were two other gentlemen who rushed there in a bike, must be Anand's friends. Everything was happening so fast.

Within 5-6 minutes I was able to hear the ambulance siren and after a while, the ambulance swiftly pulled next to us. The stretcher was opened, 4 of us lifted Anand and took him inside the ambulance. He was then rushed to the government hospital. There was a moment of joy there - all the men and the only lady who were part of that scene were happy, jubilant and victorious.  Everyone started clapping hands and everything ended as if it was designed to be the most beautiful day.

I went back to my car, gave a big hug to my wife and drove back home. I started weeping and I didn't know why. Meera was a huge support to me. She was my crew and we were heading back home with mixed feelings. There were so many men came to help and everything looked perfect to me.

After reaching home, I called the police control room and requested call me back and inform about the condition of Anand. I narrated this experience with my children and also while I was washing my blood stained shirt, I received another phone call - the lady from the police control room said "Sir, this man is in the hospital and getting treated for head injuries and he is out of danger".  I thanked her for bringing a smile in my face.

I thanked the God for keeping this man alive and also helping his family not to go through a horrific experience. I also thanked God for giving me the courage to rush towards him. I also thanked the God for bringing all of us through the accident spot to be with him when was lying down in the footpath with no one noticing him.

The time is 1.30 am now and I'm still not able to sleep. Anand's injured face is all our my home, in my bed, now appearing in this laptop, I'm not able to take him out of my thinking. I wanted to tell this compelling story to each one of you.

I have learned many things from this experience,

I don't think all of us are capable of saving lives the way a doctor would do or a trained paramedic professional would do. So what could be our role! DON'T IGNORE if you find someone is caught in an accident. STOP AND CHECK - not everyone is drunk and not everyone deserves a fall like that. Even if someone was drunk and met with an accident this person deserves to be saved.  When there is an accident the in the onlookers mind there is a sudden curiosity to see whats going around.  Its typical find many stopping their vehicles and gathering around the victim or simply rubbernecking - the act of 'witnessing' can go on for many hours but remember the victim needs immediate attention.  I've seen the support pours in when the first person decides to LEAD THE CROWD  

There is nothing like "well someone will take care" kind of situation when it comes to responding to an accident scene where no one is else around. RUSH, ASSESS, and possibly provide FIRST AID and if situation demands attempt a CPR or any other method (including TALKING / SHOUTING and through POSITIVE THOUGHTS) to keep him alive. If you are not trained but aware or CALL FOR HELP. There are hundreds of helpful hearts around us. PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE 

While I pitied for Anand, I was angry with him.  He was careless.  He was not wearing his helmet. He could have had a fall, but could have brushed the dust and continued to drive back to his home or to his workplace had he worn his helmet. Nothing that happened would have happened today. There is a family waiting for you BE RESPONSIBLE.

I strongly recommend this point. Get a training on CPR/FIRST AID. There are thousands of lives lost in this country, many are due to lack of first aid, lack of awareness to saving lives, fear of something that you don't know. I find this day beautiful because last Saturday morning I attended and received my certificate fo the First Aid/CPR training at the Nightingales Center for nursing, Kasturi Nagar, Bangalore.  I was so fortunate, so fortunate to be aware of the procedures.  I never ever imagined that I will get a live opportunity to put my training to practice. So, GET TRAINED as soon as possible, it doesn't cost much to get the training. Imagine how powerful each one of us could become. We can respond swiftly to such situations without any hesitation.  ENCOURAGE OTHERS your family members and friends to get trained too.

Finally, many of us have the fear of not knowing what will happen to us if we care for a victim in an accident scene. We have the Good Samaritan law to protect us. After the ambulance left, I found a traffic constable Mr. Nataraj in the scene. He also had to rush to that spot from somewhere after hearing about this accident. He neither asked my name nor interested in knowing where I lived.  I also found that the emergency numbers like 100 worked, number 108 worked yesterday.

I want to FEEL POSITIVE about this experience. I'm very certain I'll sleep peacefully now because I know tomorrow will be another beautiful day. It is my daughters birthday, she is going to smile after seeing her bicycle.  All of us are going to smile.


P.S This incident has created a deep impact in my life and I've already initiated a campaign "Be Safe! and Be there to Save" through Sahaya - learn more about this here...

Friday, April 22, 2016

How the life of little ones are taken for granted

Yesterday, I went to have breakfast in a popular fast food joint located near Bashyam circle, Sadashivanagar, Bangalore. A small boy, neatly dressed, who was about 9-10 years was cleaning the table. At that moment I thought this kid belonged to a customer and was just playing. It took some time for me to realize that he was working there as a janitor. I did not like what I saw.

He was meticulously collecting the left over steel plates, taking at most care picking the Coffee and Tea glasses. Without any formal training on cleanliness, he was cleaning the stainless steel tables as if they belonged to him. The entire fast food joint was buzzing with people and he appeared to be the only one to run around to keep the place spic and span. The men in the kitchen were busy and the cashier (owner?) was found to be unaware that he was actually killing a child’s future.

I was concerned about this and wanted to have a chat with the boy to find out if he was really underage. He shared his name and a beautiful innocent smile with me but he didn't utter anything beyond this. Maybe he was told not to interact with the customers.

I really wanted to do something about this since this boy was probably forced to work there. So, I secretly took some pictures in my camera. I moved away from the restaurant and reached out to some of my friends to share the contact number of any child care helpline. I finally found that there was a toll free helpline number (1098). I wasn’t very sure if someone would attend the call since I never dialed any such numbers in the past.  Under a count of three rings, a lady promptly answered the phone. She politely asked for details and I started narrating the situation and also provided her the details of the hotel and its location.

Within the next 2 hours I received at least 3 phone calls from the child care helpline. The last one was from a child care worker and he took some more details from me including the description of the boy. He was rushing to the hotel to confront the owner and rescue the boy if needed. I was extremely happy that something was happening so fast.

After an hour I received another call from him and he sounded happy. He thanked me for informing him about the boy and also clarified that the boy was a teenager. What he said afterwards was shocking. He said that his team found two more children working there and rescued them too. All of them were found to be brought from distant villages and employed by the hotel owner. Thankfully, the child care team took them to the Sadashiva nagar police station. The police had asked the owner to come there to explain. The owner was warned by the police. He also said that the children’s parents will be called, counselled and be asked to take back the children to their villages. This news brought a big relief in me.

I think what I witnessed was a speck of the dirty world where poor villagers are exploited and innocent kids are subjected to employment in big cities. There is also a possibility that the rich owners' kids are studying in some respectable schools at the expense of such kids education and youth.

I don’t think I’ve done something great; I’m really angry by the fact that such things still exist even today. What I realized is that the least one can do is to report the matter to the authorities (1098 in this case) or even call the police (100) to inform.

At the end, I’m glad that I was able to witness a government and an NGO system which appeared to be working.

My only hope is that these rescued kids, after going back to their home; don’t think about coming back to the city and find a place to continue their education

My only hope is that the parents, due to poverty or their inability to support the child's education, find miraculous ways to support their childs education that they deserve

My only hope is that the owner realizes his mistake and follows ethical practices.

My only hope is that whoever reads this story or witnesses a similar scene realizes that he or she doesn't have any right to take the life of little ones for granted.

I only hope but, certainly this incident has opened my eyes.


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