Asian Tsunami Heros

Thursday, July 21, 2005

i survived the tsunami!

well guys (and girls), that was one holiday i would not like to repeat!!! it all started badly from the start. Emirates decided to tell us 2 days before they had over booked the hotel and only got it sorted 5 pm the night before we left. while in Dubai for the stop over my eye started to swell and itch.

when we got to bangkok it was quite swollen and painful, the hospital said i had an ab-sis and it had to be removed (no diving for a week) after the week was up i went on a liveaboard to the similans, bad vis, no mantas, no whale sharks, lots of sand and fileds of coral damaged by dynamite fishing, i think that the similans are not worthy of a top 10 status and richieleu rock is supposed to be top 3, again no way. finished the liveaboard on the 23rd and 25th went to Kamala beach, 26th we were doing an island tour: Phi Phi, Maya Beach and Kai island. the tour started normally and we went to viking cave then around to Loh Sama Bay (i think that is what it is called) anyway it is a "U" shapped bay with a little beach in it and a large pinacle island in the "U". some of our boat went in to feed the fish, i took a couple of scenic shots then put our son (21 months) into a life jacket. because it was too big i had to pull it in tight and then put one on just for safety and got in. Daniel hates water and started crying and climbed around my neck so i hung on to the back of the boat until he calmed down. luckily for us he didn't and then all of a sudden they started shouting everyone back in the boat, i honestly thought there was a large shark and thought great no housing for the camera! they took Daniel back in and i climbed up and was told there had been an earth quake and tidal waves at Phuket.

i turned around to see the see running so fast back out to sea that it looked like Niagra falls, and the coral came up or rather we went down real fast, i told the boat captain to get us out quick or we would end up on the rocks and get smashed when the water came back in. the thais were fannying around trying to throw ropes to people that were well out of range. forget them i said (or words to that effect) there are 10 people on the boat now move it.

we started to back out when the wave/swell started to push into the bay around the protecting pinacle. all i can say is thank got i was not in the water, what i thought was fast going out was nothing compared to it coming in.

the poeple in the water must have washed around the bay well over 100m and out into the open sea in about 5 seconds flat! the one lucky enough to have put on life jackets were fight for their life to stay above water, i never thought i would see people going under in a life jacket. we saw 3 people (2 men and a boy) fly past u and we threw a rope the first guy caught i but the other two got pulled off.

we were about to turn the boat around when we saw a small girl float by us in a pool of blood. i helped to pull her on and the moment she was on our boat time stopped for about 10 seconds. every person and i mean every person just stood and looked, open jaws, and shear terror. then time started again when the thai boat girl screammed "oh my god, oh my god someone do something, someone do something!!!" i was the only person who could move, my wife almost fainted, her friend burst into tears and everyone else stood still.
the girl had been hit by the propellor from a long tail. she had a cut that looked like someone had got a samurai sword put the flat of the blad to her neck and sliced down to her collar bone and shoulder blade. it gapped open by at least 1" and everything was on show. the muscle on the rear of her right thigh had been sliced off to the bone and was flaping around by a small piece of skin and muscle, again there was nothing that you could not see. there was a large gash to her right shin and the tendons were visible. a small but deep cut to her bicep. and a cut where your leg meets you groin that started at the top of her vagina and disspapeared around to her buttocks. up until this point if a TV documentry about operations was on i woukd change channels as i felt physically sick! i grabbed my t shirt and tied it around her thigh/groin. i used my sons shorts on her shin and another t shirt on her thigh. i used a towel and roled it up and got someone to press it in to her shoulder to close the wound. after what seemed like a couple of minutes there was still loads of blood and when i looked further she had a 4 " gash in the back of her head, and it looked like it was through the bone.

i got another towel and put that on her head. i told the boat to go to the nearest hospital as she was dieing, but they wanted to get more people, "forget them" i said "there are plenty of boats to get them, she is going to die!" after what seemed like an eternity of arguing they headed to Phi Phi. when we got there, there was not a lot left, the beach was gone, the land was inches above sea level and the water was running off back into the sea.

people were waving and shouting for help and anything that could float was in the water.
again they tried to discharge their responsibilities by transfering her to a bigger boat, "no way" i said "take her to a hospital now, the closest one go, go, go, go, go!!!

i am not sure if it was the right thing to do, but she had lost a lot of blood and was going into shock so we stopped a dive boat and asked for their oxygen. to my amazement they had none! we stopped another and they happily passed it over to us. we set it up and again not knowing what setting, i set it to half and hoped for the best.

we went back to phuket was was in excess of an hour and seemed like 2. the guy we pulled in was Czech and it turned out the little girl was 9 and in his tour group. he got a good tongue lashing and set to work talking to her and keeping her calm. i continually checked her but as the boat was bouncing around and there were 2 v6 engines i had no chance of checking her breathing and pulse. i had to rely on eye movement and pinching her toe.

at one point her skin went really cold and clamy and i thought she had died, i had tears in my eyes, i thought she was dieing in my arms, i had to pinch her toe twice to get a movement and then i sighed. on the way back i said to the boat crew, "have an ambulance standing by at the dock, she is critical!", "yes, yes there is one there".

when we finally got in, there was no ambulance and just a minibus, i was so angry, it was lucky i didn't have a gun otherwise i would have shot the usless f*****s. we put her in the minibus and went to the hospital, again i had to tell them "flashers, horn, lights just go, go, go!!" we went past several police bikes and not one offered to escort us.

when we got to the hospital, somehow i managed to pick up and run in, shouting in thai "quick, move", the idiots wanted to put her in a wheel chair. we got her into an assessment room and i shouted for a doctor, a swedish one came over and i reeled off her injuries, the first thing he said to me was "are you a doctor?", "no just a diver" was my response. they assessed her wounds and dressed them and then she waiting over 6 hours before they operated.

the next day i went to see her and her father who was the man with the boy (her brother) who was swept away had managed to get to phuket from phi phi. his English was poor and my czech non existant but i think he realized after a while that i was one of the ones who brought her to hospital. he said a CT scan was ok and when i pointed to the other wounds and did walking motion wih my fingers he said ok. so the little girl was going to be OK. I gave him my email address, but not too sure if they will ever write.

sometimes when people ask me about it it is ok, but other times i just start crying, as that could have easily been me and Daniel, or she could have died in my arms. i'm going to take some time off work, the UK government have set up a grief clinic/councilor so i might go and see them. so that is/was my story from the tsunami

3 Comments:

  • I think you are such a brave man and there isn't many people that would have the guts, courage or bravery or sheer determination to do everything you did. You are a hero and saved somebody's life and I hope you are repaid for that in this life or the next. I wish you well in overcoming the grief/shock of what you and your family had to go through.
    Best wishes to you and your family & I hope you all live a happy and healthy life together, because you sure deserve it and should be imensley proud of yourself. xxxxx

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  • I. Was. In. The. 2004. Tsunami. Too

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:00 AM  

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