03 June 2005

I Was A Teenage Male Nurse

Ok ok... so that was deliberately titled to make you sit up and spurt your water all over the monitor. Before all you kinky perverts starts to go riot with your imagination, I was refering to my days in school with the St John Ambulance Brigade.

I wasn't sure why I signed up in the first place. Could it be that I wanted to be in the medical profession? Or do I just have that perverse affinity for nurses hard-coded in my DNA? (Nurse Janet from Mt E, eh Bionicman? *wink wink nudge nudge*)

I mean if I were a student today, I could easily say that I was inspired by TV shows like ER, Chicago Hope, Scrubs or Third Watch and it would have been a very plausible explanation since kids these days watch too much TV. Then again, it could be that movie Young Doctors In Love that did it for me. (Don't ask me how I managed to watch the R-rated movie at the tender age of 12. Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies. OK?)

Anyway, coming back, my first year saw me as a bumbling recruit who marched with the same arm and same foot out and was conned into signing up for the band. Though I never really enjoyed being in the band (and was too chicken to quit), I was glad to have learned to play the clarinet and later, the saxophone over the next 6 years.

While learning first aid was the main staple of the uniformed youth organisation, we do have our fair share of fun stuff, like campings, hikes and meeting girls from other schools' St John divisions. Heh heh....

Here's a photo of the motley group (aka Leadership Training Course'85). Can anyone spot me?

Third year was really hectic for me as I was active in the setting up of the St John division in PLMGS in the morning (take SBS 165 > 153 > 321), only to have to rush back to school in the afternoon (Take SBS 321 > 153 > 170, 171, 172, 175, TIBS 180 or 182), every Saturday, rain or shine, without fail.

Granted that it was totally exhausting, it was perhaps one of the few things that I beamed with pride and joy till this very day. If you are in this photo, please drop me a note, yah?

So the million dollar question is if I have had the opportunity to put my skills to good use? The answer is yes.

Case No. 1
Let's call her Charissa. During sports meets, I would actually have a small entourage who followed me around. The reason? Wise-cracking-comedy-talkshow, at the expense of the casualties, that would leave everybody in stitches (no pun intended).

Charissa was in the Girl's 4x100m relay (nice legs!) where she tripped and scraped her entire body on the tarmac track during the Girl's 4x100m relay. Ouch.

"How many times, do I have to remind you? Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.... See lah... See where left foot, left foot gets you?..." I mock-chided her with a wagging finger. The crowd burst into laughter while Charissa burst into tears. Till this day, I wondered if they were tears of laughter or pain or helplessness from the fact that I was kacheowing her jialat jialat that day? Hmm.... *rubs chin*

Once the wounds were all cleaned up and taken care of, we loaded her onto the stretcher and without raising her suspicion, strapped her to the stretcher so tightly that she was totally immobilised. We then raised the stretcher to shoulder height ala pall bearers and here's the kicker, we flipped the stretcher over, with her screaming at the top of her lungs, on the bottom-side(!) of the stretcher. The "entourage" joined in the fun as they hummed the funeral hymn while we slow marched back to the bleachers. Yes, she had her screaming all the way back to a standing ovation. Naturally, we were called into the Principal's office that day, for a mega dressing down.

Hmm... come to think of it, I think they were tears of laughter. I did get her phone number that day. *grin*

Case No. 2
I also remembered the ACJC sports meet of JC2 year. I was partnered with this girl whom I will called Lisa to protect her identity. So there we were attending to yet another case of human body sand papering, from yet another running event. While I was making jokes and cleaning up the bloke, Lisa started sobbing uncontrollably. Man, was I totally FREAKED OUT when she started pray in tongue and tears were flowing down her cheeks? I was like "WHAT THE HELLLL??? SHE IS FRIGGIN' FAITH HEALING????!!!!!" With all due respect to the Charismatics or Evangelists or whatever she was supposed to be, I was scared shitless until a teacher came and took her away.

Case No. 3
His name was Sam and quite a hulk for his age. It was early in the morning as we were all getting ready for morning assembly. Then there were sounds of a car screeching and a crash, followed by a fellow school mate screaming to us that someone was knocked down.

We grab our kits and sprinted to the scene and there Sam was, 20m away from a mini-van whose front and windscreen were totally smashed. Judging from the distance that Sam flew, you can only imagine the force of the impact. Fortunately, Sam was found to be conscious with minimal bleeding. We suspected fracture(s) and more worriedly, of hemorrhage as he was starting to show signs of shock. Fortunately, there was not much we needed do as the ambulance arrived shortly after and took over. We assisted by providing the medics with all the information that we managed to gather in the short window of time. Good thing that we were so near to NUH.

The good news was the Sam was not seriously injured although I couldn't say the same for the van. He was given 6 months medical leave.

Case No. 4
It was freshman year in NTU when we were in the middle of some orientation activity. Then I heard a loud thud coming from the tennis court floor. The sound came from the skull of some guy as he collapsed into an epileptic seizure, foaming at the mouth.

This is a tough one as contrary to popular belief, the way to treat the seizure (First Aid, that is) is to do NOTHING. Really. There is nothing you can do but to let the seizure run its course. Do not try to move the person. Do not try to restrain the him/her nor do you attempt to put anything into his/her mouth (in the attempt to prevent biting of the tongue). You do nothing. Period. The most you can do in my case i.e. the hard concrete ground of the tennis court is to put something soft (our shirts) to pad the floor.

Case No. 5
Steven Lim was my Operations Manager in my first job since graduation. He was previously from Fedex before he suffered a stroke which forced him to quit that job and joined us. He was a chirpy bloke who stopped drinking as a result but continued to smoke and eat to his heart's content. The older management and staff from Wong San's (now defunct) would probably remember this guy who continued to frequent the pub armed with only an orange juice and of course, his pack of Reds.

So that one fine day as I pulled into the car lot, returning from lunch, a car came screeching to a halt behind me. It was Eric with his face ashened and grabbing me to his car's passenger side.

"Steven's is in trouble!" Eric stuttered in Hokkien.

There Steven was, slumped in his seat. No pulse. No breathing.

We grabbed Steven out of the car and into the office lobby where I started CPR on him. My first kiss to a man but it certainly wasn't the time and place to be thinking about it.

Blow! Blow!

Air entered Steven's lungs as I watched his chest inflates from the corner of my eye. Then there were gargling sounds as I pull away for Steven to exhale.

Blow! Bl....

An unexpected gargling spurted right into my mouth. It was his lunch! I signaled to Allison to take over while I sprinted to the pantry sink to offload his lunch as well as my own.

Char Siew Rice

That was what he had for lunch as I quickly returned to take over from Allison with the CPR. We must have lost count how many cycles we did and we were starting to tire. The ambulance arrived shortly and took over. They pronounced him dead. Heart failure.

I was hoping so much that I could revive him. I wanted that beer that he would owe me for saving his life. It would have been the sweetest nectar that I would ever have tasted. Alas, it was not to be when we lost him that afternoon. His time was up.

Now thinking back, I was glad to have learned CPR even though I was 0-and-1 at that. At least it was available when it was needed.

I shall end this blog with this note. Think about investing some time to go learn CPR and be a certified CPR lifesaver. Go to your nearest hospital or clinic for more information. They should have information about CPR courses.

If you are in Singapore, check out -->

- Voxeros

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