Beijing, at a Ski Resort.
"Coldddd!!!" I shivered as I stepped out into the skiing area.
There were some people skiing around the area. I decided not to. It was too risky and I didn't want a swollen ankle as a result of a impulse to try skiing. My husband too, with his still swollen leg, decided to just watch the others and snap photographs.
A few of us from the same tour group were chatting near the door. We noticed a woman skiing near us. Suddenly she fell flat on her back. After a few seconds, she sat up and kicked at the ski equipment.
We didn't pay much attention to her initially.She had refused others' help in getting herself up, shaking her head and refusing to give her hand for them to pull her up. Then suddenly she lay on the cold icy snow again.
We had thought that she was tired, that she wanted to rest and regain her strength.
A minute later another man stopped to check on her. He started to call for assistance. It was then we realised something was wrong.
A few of the men in my tour group rushed over to carry the woman into the warm hall. She was unconscious. They lay her on the floor.
"Is there a doctor here?" somebody shouted.
The men stood and watched, noting that she was a Malaysian tourist like the rest of us. The other women didn't do much either. Perhaps none knew first aid.
I was hoping that the skiing resort had a medical staff who could revive her but unfortunately nobody turned up. Only a few Chinese locals stood nearby and asked me about her particulars in Mandarin. I said I didn't know her as she was not in my tour group. I could only help translate what I knew from the other Malays who witnessed her fall.
We started to panic. She was not moving. I checked her pulse, weak. Barely traceable. Her breathing too was shallow.
"CPR, CPR.. anyone know CPR?" somebody called out.
"Can't do CPR. she's still breathing," I replied.
I raised her feet, hoping to get more blood to her brain. Gosh, she's heavy. Her mother appeared and starting slapping her face, calling her but she didn't respond.
"Anyone got medical oil minyak angin?" I shouted, hoping that among the Malay ladies, there's one with a bottle. I didn't carry any. That's the only substitute for smelling salt that I know of, and had worked each time my former students fainted during assemblys.
"Here, here," said the woman's mother.
"Let her smell it for a few seconds," I said. Instead, she rubbed some on her daughter's face.
Still the woman didn't wake up. Noticing that a nostril was closed with a blood-stained tissue, we took it off. I was told by her anxious mother that she was bleeding from her nose that morning before they arrived at the skiing resort.
An old Chinese man appeared. The Chinese toldme that he's a traditional herbalist sinseh, not a medical doctor. He started to check on her. Then one of my group members, a man, fearing the worst, began to press her chest repeatedly.
Alhamdulillah she coughed and became conscious again.
"Talk to her," they said.
"What's her name?" I asked the old woman who claimed to be her mother.
As I was able to talk both Malay and Mandarin, I was asked to act as translator. As a Muslimah, I was able to help in giving the first aid which the sinseh was uncomfortable doing in public. I almost shouted into her ear, patting her cheeks lightly to keep her conscious. She was in a state of confusion. She complained that her head and right leg hurt. Then she slipped into unconsciousness again.
We worked hard to waken her up, fearing that she had injured her head during her fall. The resort manager had called for an ambulance to take her to the hospital. As I calmed her down (she had started to cry and complained of pain) I noticed that she had some medical plasters (koyok) on her head, indicating that she was not well. Gosh, then why was she skiing?
Moreover, she was not properly attired in that cold freezing weather. It was a challenge for us Muslims to guard her modesty, with everyone standing to watch her. Finally when she started to shiver, I asked her mother to get her a sweater. "Yes, I have one in the bag" the mother said. MasyaAllah..
I sighed in relief when the medical officers arrived in the ambulance. She had become a handful to handle. She was fully conscious by then. She didn't want to go to the hospital and screamed in protest.
We watched as she was carried on a stretcher into the ambulance, her mother and tourist guide accompanying her. Another loud scream was heard when they put her into the ambulance. We shook our heads.
And as my tour group members and I returned to our own bus that evening, we pondered.
"Always be careful when we want to try new things."
"Don't do anything strenous when you're not feeling well."
"Be properly dressed for a cold weather, especially Muslimah."
"Learn first aid so you'd know exactly what to do during an emergency."
"Strange, we all helped her although we are from another tour group while her own group members just stood by and watched. What would have happened if we weren't there today?"
"Syukur, we should remain united and continue to help each other in this tour group."
I have no idea what had happened to that woman.
We didn't meet any of her tour group members after that incidence.
I just hope that she's fine now.