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Loyola Students Save the Day!

Loyola Students Save the Day!

Hey everyone. Sorry about not blogging in a while. I’ve been doing so many cool things. I really have to play catch up and finish my story about Tet, our trip to the citiy’s canals, a trip to Can Tha, Can Gio, and the Mekong Delta. Plus we leave for Cambodia next week so I only have a few days to crank out a lot of details, because if I wait until after Cambodia I’ll be hopelessly behind. So, here is the first dent in many stories to tell. This is the story of a man named Robb…

This past Saturday night seemed to be normal for us Loyola students. We had recently gone to a group dinner and had returned to the dorm to relax. Besty and Alex were back in one of their rooms, Gabe was out with a few of the newly arrived CIE students, and Robb and I were sitting with a few of our Vietnamese roommates talking on the upper lobby floor which is a large open space between all the rooms which has open walls. We sat around a small glass table in wicker chairs with nice red padding. Robb’s I-pod was playing softly in the background as cool night breezes whispered around us. The mood was nice and relaxed, and all of us were reflecting on the week gone by and talking excitedly about our upcoming trip to the Mekong Delta.

This tranquility was broken however when two of the CIE girls were carrying up a fellow student, we’ll call him A, very thoroughly drunk. He could barely stand himself and had fallen over several times, as evidenced by a small bit of blood around A’s nose. This concerned Robb, thinking that it was internal bleeding. As the girls were helping him up the stairs they said he had had a nosebleed earlier in the day, but that he had hit his head on concrete. They propped him in front of his door and then left, back out again into the night. Robb and I looked down from the balcony and asked, “What do we do?” The girls looked up and said non-chalantly, “Oh he’ll be fine, just lay him on his side and put some water and crackers next to him. It’s not a big deal. He’s a little guy and he just drank a bit too much”

We looked back at A and he was trying to open his door, slumped against it and trying to get his door open with his camera in place of his key. We approached A and said, “A where is your key?” A few moments passed and he looked up droopily at us and said, “Right here” and held up his camera which he then proceeded to drop and then he slumped over again. Robb and S, a CIE girl who had been sitting with us, checked his pockets for the key. There was none to be found. We then went down and checked the front desk. Still no key. “I have to get in my room, I have to pee”, A said very slowly. We began to panic . “Does anyone have their key on this floor? We need to get him to a bathroom!” However it was too late, A stood still next to his door and urine began to sprinkle down from the crotch of his shorts and the dribble down his legs to make a large yellow puddle separating the rest of the corridor from the upper lobby. “OH SHIT!” Several people exclaimed. A slouched down against the pillar by his door in his own pee. Robb went to help him up, with the Vietnamese roommates helping him. S and I went to look for a bucket and mop and some cleaning materials. We found some on the first floor and brought them back up. At the same time A’s roommate returned with the key, opened the door, and then left again to return drinking elsewhere.

Robb moved A into his room with the help of our Vietnames roommates as S and I brought up the cleaning supplies. They were especially needed as things would get much messier within moments. “Get a bucket!”, Robb yelled. A was lurching and gurgling on the floor. One of the roommates grabbed the small pink pot when Robb had meant the large green bucket. They went back to get the green bucket from the bathroom but it was too late, A was vomiting all over the floor of his room, with Robb holding up his head so he wouldn’t choke. Things were looking serious. I had never seen someone look so bad before. Nghiem, my roommate grabbed the bucket, the cleaning solution, and grabbed some water from our room. He then began to clean up the pee in the hallway, very fast and efficiently I might add. Meanwhile Hoang, Alex’s roommate, grabbed some rags and toilet paper and began to clean up the large amount of vomit that covered the floor by the doorway and A’s bed. I was really impressed, surprised even, that he did this because he didn’t even know A and was really getting his hands dirty. Nobody even asked him, he just did it. A few moments later A threw up again and the splatter hit a broad section of the chest of Hoang’s shirt. In the face of it all he kept cleaning and didn’t complain, how many people do you know who would do that?

Things seemed to not be getting any better, and Robb was positioned behind A on the bed, holding him up straight and keeping his head up so he would not choke on the vomit he seemed to be constantly spewing. A was looking rather flushed and his eyes were rolling around in his head that Robb kept propped up. Robb began to get even more concerned as A began to foam at the mouth, yelling, “Shit he’s going into shock”. A’s breathing and heart rate were slowing incredibly and he had been unconscious and unresponsive for some time. With all of the combined factors, I figured things were going to spiral out of control. I decided it would be best to call Rylan, our program director and go to guy. After trying several times and no answer I stopped trying and went back to A’s room to see what help I could be.

Luckily within a few minutes Rylan called, he seemed a bit sleepy (which is to be expected, it was late at night and he had been caring for his sick baby for the past week) but I told him the situation and then passed the phone to S and then to Robb. Rylan said the situation was serious enough to call an ambulance, so Rylan said he would give the CIE program director a ring and that we should call an ambulance, even though A wasn’t our responsibility. Rylan was obviously irritated at the irresponsibility of some of the members of the CIE program.

So after we hung up the phone with Rylan, several of the CIE students who had come back from their night out called an ambulance, and Robb told them the address because most of them forgot. He kept on holding A’s head as the vomit kept coming in spurts. A CIE student said an ambulance was on the way. While we were waiting a few of the Vietnamese in the guesthouse curiously poked their heads into the room. I grew somewhat frustrated with them crowding around like it was a spectacle, and even more so that several of the pot bellied forty year old men were heavily smoking. Not conducive to the situation in my opinion. Robb continued to hold up A’s head and I supported his side to keep him from falling over.

Eventually the ambulance arrived and pulled up through the gate to the front doors. Four paramedics came up the stairs and prepared a stretcher for A. During the process Robb used his lifeguard and camp counselor training to accurately describe the situation and A’s symptoms to the paramedics, which they duly noted. In the process they hooked him up to a machine to check his heart rate and put little gelled electrodes on his chest. They then stuck an IV in him which our Vietnamese roommate Giang held up as the paramedics continued their work. Then there was a hitch- “We need identification to take him to the hospital. Driver’s license, passport, anything,” said a paramedic looking around and scanning our faces seemingly expecting one of us to have the said documents at the ready. A tense feeling arose in the room because A’s wallet had been missing since earlier in the evening. I immediately began to think, “Will they turn him away? What is going to happened.” Thoughts rolled in my mind of an Australian Aid worker I had met who thought he was having a stroke, and the hospital he went to here in Vietnam turned him down because he did not have the right papers. Luckily within moments A’s roommate had thrown around all the clothes in their shared closet and found A’s passport, which was promptly given to the questioning paramedic who pocketed it and then began the next phase of the operation.

“We need to put him on the stretcher and carry him down to the ambulance. Americans please help,” said the paramedic. So Robb gently put A’s head on to the stretcher as the paramedics lifted his body off the bed and onto the stretcher. A was secured to the stretcher with straps to keep him from rolling around and several people began to pick him up… But just as things seemed to be going well, A began to violently choke on his vomit and Robb yelled, “Stop, undo the straps!” The paramedics seemed intent on hurrying to the ambulance but Robb stopped them and undid the straps and turned A’s head to the side so he could project some vomit into the green bucket once more. After that the paramedics left his last few straps on the upper side of his body loose and they began, along with a few students, to carry him down to the ambulance. Once inside, C, a CIE student volunteered to ride with him as did Thom, Gabe’s Vietnamese roommate since he spoke Vietnamese and could effectively translate for the two parties. We watched the ambulance drive away with a sigh of relief.

Robb however was still curious as to how A was and understandably wanted some closure to the event. Hoang also wanted to see what happened, and I wanted to see how A was as well since I myself had been to the hospital earlier in the trip and wanted to provide some comfort because I knew it could be a lonely place. So the three of us began to walk the few blocks to Family Medical, Hoang still covered in A’s puke and Robb still with sweat and A’s pee on his pants. Our motley crew passed the French embassy and arrived at a very quiet Family Medical where a few CIE students had arrived on their Vietnamese friend’s motorbikes a few minutes ahead of us. We were greeted by the CIE program director, Brian, in the lobby of the clinic.

Brian told us not to worry and to go home. “These things are normal. Sometimes people drink too much. He is stable and they’ll release him In the morning.” Robb challenged him, “Don’t you want to stay? He is your students and he is all alone.” Brian responded, “I live close by. If there is a problem I can rush over.” So with that we walked home to give everyone the status report.

Robb confided in me later, “Man that was really scary. I’m literally still shaking right now that was so intense. That kid could have died.” I smiled, “But he didn’t because you were there” and then gave him a good pat on the back before heading off to bed.

I have to give much respect and credit to Robb DeGraff. His leadership, first response skills, and quick thinking may have saved a life. Scratch that, it DID save a life. If Robb hadn’t stepped up and taken charge of the situation A would have surely died in the night from chocking on his vomit. So good job Robby DeGraff. In my book you are a hero. Rylan commented later, “This shows what kind of students Loyola is producing: Leaders who step up when the rest are unwilling. You guys were not responsible for him, but you lent a hand anyway. That shows great compassion. Very respectable and impressive.” Good job also to the Vietnamese roommates who really stepped up when they didn’t have to. Finally thanks to everyone who helped out that night. We did good work.

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