Saturday, February 28, 2009

Accident: 80-Plus Uncle Tumbles Down Escalator

It was not a pretty sight. Coming from lunch and walking back to our client's office, we only saw it by chance. We were one floor below the ground at the Raffles MRT Station near the exit —just past Polar Puff & Cakes and a few steps away from the ladies' room where they usually distribute copies of the free newspaper— when we heard a shriek followed by a series of thumps. We turned our heads to the direction of the sound to see a man rolling down the escalator, one steel step at a time. There was a slight pause as he tried to break his fall, but in a fraction of a second, he was tumbling down again.

I raced to climb the steps but a gentleman beat me to it and was able to stop uncle from falling down further. Thanks to the quick thinking of another individual, one I never saw, the escalator came to a halt after that person pressed the stop button. Immediately, the lady who was originally ahead of uncle came rushing down towards him. A second individual, a young man, followed her. Meanwhile, the gentleman who got to uncle first was trying to help him up his feet. All these happened very quickly.

"No, no, no!" was all I could say. I was concerned that uncle might have broken his back or something and it might not be wise to force him up. I am reminded of Rescue 911's advice: Do not move an injured person unless there is imminent danger. I was relieved when the gentleman stopped after a few futile attempts. The victim, uncle, was visibly shaken but conscious and managed to answer when asked if he was alright.

"I want to go up," he said, shifting his eyes to where he would have already been had he not fallen.

Uncle had red marks on his arms and a bit of blood was coming out from his head. The same lady who came rushing down earlier brought out a tissue from her bag and placed it over the wound on uncle's head. The young man who had followed her took out his phone and held it in front of him.

"Don't take photo, call for help!" The lady exclaimed.

"I'm not taking photo; I'm calling for help," the young man replied.

And so he did. The first MRT staff, a lady, came in a little over a minute. Another MRT staff, a man this time, joined him shortly.

"Age 80 and above..." were the only words I could make out of what he said into his radio. He then had to direct an absent-minded man who was making his way up the escalator to the stairs on the right.

A few minutes later he was joined by a third MRT staff, also male. No sooner did he arrive when a lady staff came next, this time bringing along with her a wheelchair and a first aid kit.

With no time to spare, uncle was guided down the escalator as he limped one steel step at a time until he reached the bottom of the steps and finally sat on the wheelchair. No stretcher. No carry. Judgment call made. The physical assessment must have been too quick for me not to see. Maybe the look on uncle's face said he didn't have a broken back. I make no judgment. I only note down my observations. Besides, I have to trust them — I'm sure the members of the MRT staff are well-trained to handle these types of emergencies. At least uncle didn't look to be in too much pain as he was being guided towards the wheel chair.

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