by Thu Trang
On Monday morning a driver lost control of his car. He hit and killed three people, including a 6-year-old student at Ngoc Lam Primary School in Ha Noi's Long Bien District.
The car stopped only after it had rolled up onto the pavement and smashed into a tree.
Three motorbikes and their broken parts lay on the pavement next to the severely damaged car.
After the accident Duong Kim Lien, a teacher at Ngoc Lam Primary School, tried to bring her student – Tran Gia Han, the 6-year-old victim – to hospital and ended up witnessing the young child's death.
Later she shared on Facebook that many people had refused to help her bring Han to hospital.
"We stopped a taxi, but the taxi drove away when some people brought the girl into it, although people tried to call him back," she wrote. "Everyone tried to stop a car, but the driver also drove away."
The girl was then brought to the hospital by a police semi-lorry.
Lien's experience drew a lot of attention, and the media picked it up just minutes after she posted it online.
Many expressed anger, criticism and worries about people's lack of sensitivity when they see traffic accident victims in critical condition.
But I do not think that criticism is completely justified. If moving traffic accident victims without giving them first aid will put them in even more danger, the helper can unintentionally cause more of a problem.
Some people are insensitive, but not all. Lacking experience and knowledge about first aid could make them worried. They may not dare help the victims, fearing they'd make the situation worse.
Le Thanh Quy of the Ha Noi-based Bach Mai Hospital said one principle of first aid was not moving the victim.
"For instance, if some ribs are broken, when you move them the broken ribs can become knives destroying their internal organs or spinal cord, and the victims could become more injured or even paralysed," Quy said.
In the accident on Monday, the 6-year-old girl was hit directly. If her breastbone were broken, for instance, then if someone carried her it could have destroyed her thorax.
"When you see an accident, the best way to help is keeping the victim in the same place, not giving them any food or drink, and waiting for ambulance," Quy said. "Medical workers will give them first aid to make sure that moving them will not cause any more damage. Being enthusiastic is good, but in some cases you can kill the victim unintentionally."
Nguyen Dinh Quang, a lawyer from the Hai Phong Bar, said that the draft amended Penal Code proposed to increase the punishments for people who intentionally ignore traffic accident victims.
The administrative fine would be VND500,000 to 2 million (about US$20 to $80), or the person could be sentenced to from one to five years in prison, Quang said.
"But in fact, giving the punishment and sentence to the person ignoring the traffic accident victim is very difficult and so far no one has received the punishment," he said. "One of the reasons why passers-by hesitate to give a hand is because they lack necessary skills in emergency cases and do not know how to treat the victim's injuries.
"Instead of trying to run away, or trying to take the victim to a vehicle to go to hospital, people should keep calm and call someone with medical skills who knows the right treatment."
In some cases, all we can do to help victims is console them.
Nguyen Thanh Ha, a student from the Ha Noi University, said that last year she saw an accident where the victim fell onto the road.
"I came to her and took off my coat to cover her to prevent her from being cold," Ha said. "I held her hand and told her the ambulance was coming. At that time, she looked at me gratefully."
Ha said she believed she had helped that person in a meaningful way.
As for me, I think people have their own ways of looking at accidents and helping victims. Passers-by should always keep calm and think critically so they can make a good decision in each case. — VNS