Monday, July 13, 2009

Dead man swimming

I'm going to have to revise the comment in my last blog, in which I said that the week finished up much better than it started. There was a rather sudden and unusual turn of events on Sunday afternoon, when I took the kids from our residential home to the swimming pool.

We take the kids swimming a lot - not only as recreation, but also to teach them the skill of swimming. Drowning is a major cause of death here in Vietnam, and on top of that very few people know CPR. Because of this, we have invested a lot of time in teaching our kids and staff some first aid, and just a couple of months back we also ran a CPR course over a weekend.

On Sunday we were at the pool as usual, and one of our older kids noticed a man floating face down in the water - so he dived in, realised the guy wasn't kidding around, and pulled him out. Lifeguards were called, but they didn't seem to know any CPR, and the attempt at resuscitation that followed was fairly futile. A foreign man who was also swimming there knew a bit more than the pool staff, but I think the man had had a heart attack, and CPR probably wasn't much help anyway. An ambulance was called, but they didn't arrive until I was leaving, about half an hour later.

So our weekend frolic at the pool ended in our kids watching a man die. His wife and their young child were with him, so there were some traumatic scenes.

Given this awful situation to be in, I was really proud of the Blue Dragon kids. Because of the tough lives that they have lived, the local community often stereotypes them and can be extraordinarily harsh on them. Our kids get blamed for pretty much anything that happens, but the reality is that they stand head and shoulders above their peers as well as their elders.

The Blue Dragon boy who saw this man in the water was the one to dive in to see if he was OK; he was also the one to call for help and start the CPR process. And while another group of teens at the pool were laughing and joking about the great excitement of it all, our kids stood back quietly, worried to see this unfold about them, looking to me in the hope that I could help.

In the end all I could do was round our kids up and get them back to their home. Another of our staff came to meet us, to talk through what had happened and make sure they weren't traumatised by what had happened. Vietnamese people are big believers in ghosts and superstition, so I wasn't sure what the kids would be thinking - or fearing - after this. Two of the boys who were there lost their own younger brother in a drowning incident a few years ago.

But despite it all they seemed fine: shocked to see how easily and quickly life can be extinguished, as was I, but that's only to be expected. Another tough life lesson, but once again I have reason to be proud of the Blue Dragon children.



Terynn said...

I am proud to read of the Blue Dragon children's response to this traumatic experience.

I wish they had not experienced it at all, but am glad that your staff has prepared them well for such an event.

Mosher said...

I've trained for just this kind of thing happening and still don't know if I'd cope. Well done to the kid who did everything right.