So today was another study in how lucky I am to have gone to an American school.
One of the girls here had a seizure today and as far as I could tell a pretty severe one.
Now about a week ago I taught a first aid class, nothing big just something on cuts and scrapes and burns, and I talked about the need for everyone to have this knowledge. People asked me why and I said because a medical emergency can happen at any time to anyone and we should all be prepared. Then it was decided I should do a class for the teachers at a later date. Oh the irony.
Anyway this morning I was sitting in my office when another teacher came in and gently knocked on my door. I invited her in and asked her what seemed to be upsetting her.
“Well” she quietly informed me “one of the girls has passed out or something like that. Can you help?”
Now as much as I wanted to slap the teacher for having wasted time and gone through pleasantries well a child was passed out I couldn’t waste that time and immediately took off running. After having to have explain to the teacher that “just there” isn’t telling me where something is I finally found the girl in the state of a rigid seizure.
No anyone with first aid knowledge knows there is nothing to be done for a seizure but try to keep the victim safe and treat for shock, so this is what I started doing. The problem is the other teachers couldn’t seem to understand that and seemed to think I could somehow make her stop.
For some reason I’ll never understand I had to argue for about 10 minutes- thus totaling the girls rigid seizure time to 40 minutes at their estimation (proving this was not a regular seizure and that we needed to get to the hospital faster)- for us to get her into a car and to the nearest hospital.
So we loaded her into the school’s vehicle (which just so happens to be an ambulance as it fits the most people) and at a speeding 125 kilometers per hour- which is FLYING when the roads aren’t paved- we were off.
In the car on the way she came out of her rigid state but remained unconscious with a few complications (such as not breathing)
Let me just take a moment to thank my father for having me take the class, Mr. Schauble for teaching the class, and Stevenson high school for providing the class, that made this next sentence possible.
I had to perform rescue breathing.
Once she started again her breathe seemed to be even and eventually we arrived at the hospital and were given the very comforting diagnosis of “I dunno”.
This incident has caused me to reflect on a few differences between here and the states in this kind of situation.
1) I would not have been the only person on the mission to know any sort of first aid had this happened in the U.S.A. State side we are lucky enough to have first aid courses available to everyone. If you’re reading this and haven’t taken a first aid course please go sign up for one now.
2) Within minutes of someone seizing in the USA an ambulance, one with EMTs not the school’s old used ambulance, would have been called. There would not have been a wait.
3) If she had stopped breathing in the USA I would have had the correct equipment to deal with the situation and the rescue breathing would have been preformed with a barrier rather then good ole’ fashioned pinch the nose mouth on mouth.
But on the other hand
1) People might not have given their jackets to keep her warm when I treated for shock.
2) Someone might not have been there to comfort her mother and pray with her the entire time
3) She might not have been surrounded by people who loved her
No matter what it is quite the story, eh? The definition of “ditch” medicine as my dad calls it.
I’m kind of exhausted form the whole experience and I’m not sure what to write for now. I just thought some of you might enjoy the mental image of me in the back of an old beat up ambulance performing rescue breathing on an eleven year old girl with women praying in the background and the car flying over rocks and bumps due to unpaved road.
This is Africa.
I love it anyway.
See you all in 2 months!
P.S. Incase you are wondering about the title it refers to Leonardo diCaprio in "Blood Diamond" when he said TIA