Saturday, July 22, 2006

Relek ah Brudder.

(Adam: Eh relek la brudder. What's your problem?)

We Malaysians are such a relaxed people. Nothing ever seems to faze us. Much. The word emergency does not seem to exist in our vocabulary or it is a word that conjures up a totally different reaction from any other people in the world. Emergency ah? Wait ah. Minum dulu ya?

Saturday 21 July, 2006. Bukit Antarabangsa. City of Ampang in the recently declared developed state of Selangor.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon Bukit Antarabangsa was assailed by hurricane force winds. A fairly common occurrence in the area. As expected this caused a fair amount of tree damage. Along Jalan Wangsa 1 leading up the hill to the housing area are decades old pine trees which are rotted and probably termite infested. With winds of that force I expected some of the trees to lose branches and maybe even be totally felled. At 3.15 p.m. I drove along Jalan Wangsa 1 and sure enough there I saw debris strewn along the whole stretch of road. Big branches broken off. And smaller twigs blown off by the winds littered the road right down to Jalan Ulu Klang. About 1 km below. Halfway down one of the trees had lost a huge branch which lay across the road one end on one side of the road and the other precariously hanging from a fork in the tree trunk on the other side. Traffic had to navigate across the opposing lane and under this heavy branch. Dangerous situation, no? A passing car could be badly damaged. An unsuspecting motorcyclist could be killed if the tree fell on him. An emergency situation surely.

I called 911. A lady answered. I told her the about the situation. She listened patiently, asked for my name which she insisted on pronouncing as “At trick”, and then said that she was going to connect me to the Ampang Fire Department. Less than 30 seconds later a man answered identifying himself as Balai Bomba Ampang. I explained the whole situation again. His tone of voice when he reacted to my story told me that he was a little less than interested. He then asked for my phone number and my name which when I told him he insisted on pronouncing as “At Trick”. I shall never again think of my given name as common.

Bomba: Okay la. I will call and inform the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council.

Me: Call the MPAJ? But this is an emergency. The tree could fall and kill somebody.

Bomba: Ya? Oh you mean the tree is hanging across the road ah?

Me: Yes.

Bomba: Okay la we call MPAJ and see how.

Me: But this is an emergency and you are an emergency service, right?

Bomba: Ya la. But we call first. If MPAJ knows about it then we don’t have to come out la. But if they are not there then we will come out.

Me: (Resigned) Okay la. Terima kasih.

Come out? We’re talking about taking a leisurely stroll are we? But that’s the way Bolehland works. No problem, beb.

This incident reminded me sadly of what happened when my father died in a private hospital in Ipoh. My father was terminally ill in the Intensive Care Unit of this private hospital well-known among Ipoh folks for being very expensive. (I should have known then that in Bolehland high prices do not buy you high quality services.)
When I saw that my father was having great difficulty breathing I went to the ICU nurse’s station and asked if there was anything that she could do to make him feel more comfortable. She never looked up from the file she was working on and casually asked if I wanted her to call his personal doctor? When I offered that she should have a look at him and decide professionally if he needed the doctor’s assistance her reply shocked me into a stunned silence.

“We only call for the hospital doctor when it is an emergency.”

“What???!!! My father could be dying. If that is not an emergency what do you term an emergency?”

“When the patient stops breathing”, was her nonchalant reply.

Of course less than 10 minutes later my father’s breathing stopped. Then all hell broke loose. Pandemonium. Bells and sirens actually went off in the ICU! At a volume loud enough to have caused several more fatalities in that Intensive Care Unit of that very expensive private hospital in Ipoh.

My father died that night as a result of our radically different interpretation of an emergency.

At the apartment where we live the fire and smoke alarms have gone off on numerous occasions. Each time my family and I are the only ones who have left our unit, walked down the emergency stairs to the ground to await resolution of whatever caused the alarms to go off. Others stayed home. Watching football on TV, having their dinner or simply shrugging their shoulders.

Emergency? Jangan risau (worry) beb. Kita call dulu (we call first) then we come out.


zee kin said...

My condolense to your late father..

If i am to be a lawyer next time ( currently pursuing a degree), i will SUE all these SxxT for negligence and make them broke.

zee kin

mrbherng said...

Isn't that the typical Malaysian attitude? Malaysian don't take things seriously, especially safety... people working in construction site without safety helmet, driving without seat belts, fire alarm goes off as if it's just some music... no wonder we are still categorised as developing country.. wonder when will we be categorised as third world .. wondering.

mob1900 said...

I'm sorry about the loss of Papa Pat was contributed by inefficiency of Bolehland's medical staff. Perhaps things would have been different if we do have do have the '1st class mentality' as religiously chanted by Uncle Lim(Lim Kit Siang not Lim Goh Tong) but fell to deaf years of those monkeys in Parliament. I was lucky as my dad was operated on by a 'Visiting Surgeon', a kind Canadian doctor who were deployed at University Hospital for they were short of doctors/surgeons in anticipation of Raya holidays last year. Even after spending 16 hours on the operating theatre after the successful surgery, he made his rounds to visit his patients, still in his surgery clothes! He looks older than my dad(fyi is 66 during that time) and both my sis and me were mystified of his energy level.
And No, he doesn't know anything about our Power Root tonic drink. We were grateful by that white-haired/weary looking doctor who reassure and encourage his patients to recover. He was honest and make no attempt to keep us in the dark just to shake us pesty-enquiring-minds. He left for Canada before we could return to thank him for his kindness.

It's just plain professionalism and the humility of a caring doctor but it does a world of difference!

daniel said...

Pat, this sense of helplessness is very depressing to say the least.

Years ago, I saw an accident where a school bus knocked down a school boy on a motorcycle while making a u-turn and its rear wheel went over the poor boy, motorbike and all.

Due to the nature of the accident, I advised the driver not to move him until the para-medics arrive. 991 (we have to be different from the rest of the world) rang off the hook several times before some woman answered. After relaying the relevant information and location of the accident, I asked if the ambulance could be despatched immediately as the hospital was not too far away.

To my utter shock, I was told "belum pasti" and if I was so close to the hospital and desperate, I might as well send the victim to the ER myself!

At the meantime more passers-by and the kampung folks came and before I could stop them, they tried to bundle the boy into a car, failed, took him out and piled him onto a pickup truck.

I heard he did not make it.

Chet said...

Same situation in my apartment, Patrick.

The first time I heard the fire alarm go off after I moved here, I collected the necessary items (IC, etc.) and left my apartment. I stood at the entrance of my apartment and looked around me. No one else leaving their apartments. No smoke, either. So I went back into my apartment. When I told my sister and brother, they said maybe it was a test. Yes, but no notice, nothing.

Another time, the alarm rang for a short while and then stopped. I heard a softer ring which went on for a long time, but I couldn't figure where it was coming from. Later, when I went downstairs to check something, the ring could still be heard. And when I was ready to return to my apartment and pressed the elevator button, one of the elevators opened and a guy walked out, drenched with sweat.

What happened was, he was inside the elevator when the fire alarm rang, which shut off the elevator. The soft ring I kept hearing was this guy pressing the alarm inside the elevator. But nosecurity guards came to check on the elevators.

I wonder what would've happened if I didn't press the elevator button, and nobody came along to press the elevator button for a long time? I think that guy was in there for about 10 minutes, and he was drenched with sweat.

ngy said...

I wonder what us layman can do to instigate more awareness or how to react in such condition.

We cant change how the service in the country works, we can change our mindsets and learn how to react under such circumstance.

How can a fellow native help to spread knowledge during emergency senarios?

If a person is run over, first we call, if the help we asked wasnt sure of when to arriev, what can we do to help? Take victim to hospital or nearest clinic is norm, can we do more? Take up home-first-aid-education? Request for other bystanders not to stay too close or around and cause traffic jam?

Anonymous said...

that was painful, mate. reading about your dad. i'm sorry you had to go through that. we once had to rush my grandad to the hospital, on the eve of my little cousins funeral. she died earlier in the morning. the bastard on call at the hospital was out for tea at 2 am in the morning and would not answer his phone. my grandad suffered man. finally the bastard came in and got the procedure done. 10 minutes. my grandad suffered for 1 and a half hours. it was an ugly incident, and i made sure they got that. but still... if happened once. it will happen again. someone commented with the word "helpless" in the comment. spot on. spot on.


Cynthia said...

So sad to hear of your dad. Like I've commented before, such sad stories happen every day in Malaysia. What really shakes me to the core is that these are involving someone's life. Can you bring it back after its gone because of your negligence and tidak apa attitude? That lost life was precious! And yet, it is only Malaysians who could treat it as something that is not worth a whisper.
I am wondering as I'm typing this, at this exact moment - how many such lives are hanging in the balance at the hands of some of these so-called professionals?
It is a miracle that I myself survived at their hands after a severe accident a few years back. I know how the majority of them work. Very relaxed, chit-chatting away so loudly at 3, 4am in the morning while we, the patients are trying to get some sleep, doing their duties half-heartedly. One even took some hours before she brought the bed-pan that I asked for. And flinged it to my face. I was immobile and she knew it. I cried sitting there thinking "I wouldnt be asking you, if I could do it by myself!" That hurts to this day.
That's the worst part: you're at their mercy...and helpless.

Cynthia said...

It is never advisable to move a person who is involved in an accident. But then again, knowing how our emergency units respond, most people just take the initiative and send the victim to the nearest hospitals themselves. But it is extremely dangerous and risky more so if the victim has had a spinal injury which you may never know. I myself was taken to the hospital by the fellow who knocked me down (very reluctantly) And that 20 minutes ride was the most excruciating ride of my life. They had no choice but to put me into a bundle at the back seat of the car.
But yes, the layman can help wherever he/she can. Many came forward to help me. And I never had a chance to thank them.

lloydcheam said...

I am sorry PT about your daddy. I really hope it will never happen again in anyone's life.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is the M'sia that we've come accustomed to, sadly.

The rakyat have to literally pay with their lives to get anything like a simple pothole covered.

Even the recent LRT debacle we see this type of mentality. We're basically waiting for tragedy to strike us in order to get anything done.

But then again, our memories are short and we never learn from past mistakes.

The Unladen Swallow said...

You know, I'm reminded of the story in the UK I think, where a guy reported to the cops that he saw two guys breaking into his shed in the backyard. He told them so and so, and the police failed to arrive in ten minutes. So he called them up again and told them there was no need for them to come, because he had already shot and killed the chumps. Two minutes later, not less than five patrol cars showed up, and arrested the robbers.

One thing I've learned in Malaysia, is that you have to report a false catastrophe for something to be done. Like how I say to TMNet that my Internet has been down for five days, even when its been down for only 3 hours (although they have been known to cut people for weeks). So the next time, you see a tree about to fall down, just call them firemen up and tell them that a whole fucking forest collapsed on a house, and the place is about to go up in flames from the leaking gas pipe.

You'll see how efficient they'll be when push comes to shove. Seriously.

Mnuts said...

I too have hospital incident to share...It sad but true. My brother at the age of 49 was rushed to the GENERAL hopital with a very very severe chest pain. He was 'put' on the wheelchair for almost 20 minutes while the nurse-looking-receptionist trying to locate his 'personal' file...whatever the hell it was...he died right there and then!!! Why can he have the top priority to be treated???

Anonymous said...

i'm sorry you lost your father like that. my baby died in the icu too. it was during my confinement so i went home to rest for a bit. a nurse called saying she was critical. i rushed over n there she was, not moving and alone. my hubby had to go search for someone to tell us that our baby had died. i took my baby n left n they had the nerve to call us back the next day to scold us. that was 5 years ago n i still cant forget the way she looked lying there all alone.


y(a)ppie said...

911? Malaysia wor...

su-ann said...

i'm not surprised at all..

when a family member was reporting an armed robbery to the Kajang Police.. the office merely asked (repetedly dragging time):

"Betul ke?.. are you sure or not?"

and it's a wonder why crime rates are shooting through the roof..

another incident - a friend reported a boy getting terribly beaten, the policeman replied:

"jangan tipu lah.." *hung up the phone*

that boy is now deceased.

so much for protecting the public.. i wonder if that policeman would disregard a phonecall like that, if it was his own family members. selfishness and ignorance is what makes our lack in social responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Hey Patrick,

Sorry to hear about your dad...You know what? I was in the same situation when my father died. He too had difficulty breathing and when I asked for the nurses to attend to my dad, they took their time and said that they have called the doctor.Looking at my father, who was in great pain, holding my hands begging for help i started crying and panicking and at the same time i was also furious !!! I blasted at the nurse telling her ' Can't you see my father is in pain, he needs help NOW!!' and sarcastically she replied 'please do not shout at me, i know how to do my job and handle this'...sadly my father suffered a heart attack, slipped into a coma,and passed on several days later...all because she claimed she knew how to do her job.

Sadly, there are many people out there who inculcates this 'Tidak-apa' attitude to everything they do. It's really sickening to see that. I never sued or went after that nurse for what happened. I think what happened itself must have made her realise her mistake. Her laid back attitude had cost someone to lose their life.

nor'aini said...

mr patrick,
u know what? i was laughing...
bagus la cara u tulis...

Zach said...

So sorry bout ur dad , pat. I know which hospital is tat in Ipoh . Its a big white shark ! I find the doctor in MSia just irresponsible at all.I think something wrong with their professionalism. I still rememeber that few years back my mum has been told by this doctor that she might have diagnose with ovarian cancer. He need to do an surgery to remove the ovary before it is spread to other part of her body . As we trust his professional judgement , my mum proceed with the surgery. Then later part of the year my mum moved to UK and consulted doctor over there about her health concern after the surgery. Doc looked at the report and find that the surgery is not neccessary at all. Now my mum still need to count on Hormone pills because by removing the ovary , hormone will not be produced anymore. THis hormone pills will cause cancer in long term. We thot of suing the Doctor but we didnt. But also thanks to this incident that my mum found Jesus as her comfort in life.

Another incident is about the 991 thingy. I just cant understand how this police force works ! . I live in ipoh new town , there is this time burglary in my house. I called the police and u know what ? The fxxking police told me that my house it is not situated in their area of control. THey give me a number and asked me to call that number instead . It is a emergency for God sake and we dont have time to jot down the number. I was thinkking ,cant u just transfer call or inform the police station in my area. If the robber is wif arm weapon, i could die there withini seconds and the police expect me to patiently jot down the stupid number. Believe me the number is not 991 , its a longer than that, its a residential number. Wonder what it is for then to have 991! .

I already have the solution for all this non sense. If something happen to you in msia like sickness or accident , then its all depend on ur luck whether u can survive it or not. Maybe we just have to put ourself in a similar situation in jurasssic years where they do0nt have world class doc or surgeon. So whenever they fall sick or anything , tehy just wait to die.

For police , I think its better count on urself rather than police. You have to be accounted for your own safety. I think one o of the comment by someone bout braggin bout the seriousness of the situation would gain priority on the case by relevant party, does work. Or maybe Msia govt will approve licence for all fellow msian to carry gun for protection purposes like what happen in USA. I know that ppl will scare , it will be a war if tat happen but look at USA, their street is safer than us! Just imagine a gun in your hand and what you can do to those snatch theft , rapist ! Shoot in their ass that what I will do !

tikus9 said...

Welcome to Bolehland...which includes to the package of the "tidak apa" attitude. I'm not generalizing on something but don't anybody realised that when we are served by those "wan tan" heads, definitely it's their own sweet time.

Regardless in hospitals, banks, post office they are there to test our patience. That's all I can say.