|Good Samaritans: Nguyen Van Tuan (centre) and Do Thi Kim give first-aid to a road accident victim. — File Photos
|Helping hands: Volunteers Tuan and his wife Do Thi Kim run the Bridge 38 Humanitarian First-Aid Post.
For the past 20 years, Nguyen Van Tuan, his wife Do Thi Kim and four children have been rushing to the scene of roadside accidents to help injured motorists around Duc Lieu Commune's Bridge 38. Giang Phuong
and Cong Nguyen
In emergencies, Nguyen Van Tuan calls Bu Dang District's ambulance to transport the patients, and sometimes when the situation is urgent the 53-year-old even carries them on his own motorbike.
Tuan and his wife Do Thi Kim run the Bridge 38 Humanitarian First-Aid Post without ever asking for repayment or allowance. In fact, Tuan has emptied his own pockets to buy medical tools and supplies for injured people. It wasn't until the province's Red Cross Association decided to establish an official first-aid post in his house in 1996 that he was provided with antiseptic, cotton and bandages.
Tuan and Kim used to serve in the army and got married in their hometown in the northern province of Thanh Hoa. After settling down near National Highway 14 in 1993, they started to make their livelihood through paddy agriculture and fishing. Their lives changed dramatically in 1994, when the construction of Thac Mo hydroelectricity power plant connected Bridge 38 with the highway by their house.
At first, Tuan thought that this would be a turning point to help improve his living situation, but he was wrong. Instead, the winding road around the construction site has turned their lives upside down, causing accidents by day and by night.
The middle-aged couple residing in southern Binh Phuoc Province will never forget the day they saved a passenger from a bus that had turned upside down at the side of the road.
"I was tending the garden and then suddenly I heard the whiz and crunch of the passenger car hitting the rail. Resuming the work I was doing, I called for my wife to see what was going on.
"There were about 40 passengers in the bus, 16 of whom were seriously wounded. Blood was everywhere. We almost ran out of bandages and cotton swabs. Finally, we had to use our blankets and mosquito nets as replacements. We let the passengers with minor injuries lie down at our house. For more serious cases, we had them carried to nearby hospitals."
According to provincial statistics, there have been 1,207 car accidents in the area that have killed 10 people and injured 1,871 others. Four hundred people have suffered head injuries from 1999 to 2008. As of last December, there had been 90 accidents in 2011, including 15 cases of bone damage and four head injuries.
"Part of the problem is the lack of street lamps along this section of road. It used to be lit, but the lamps have been cut off for nearly a year now. I worry for passers-by," Tuan says.
Tuan and Kim not only rescue the victims but also protect their property, since robbers often take advantage of accidents to intercept vehicles and steal luggage.
"There are very few people around Bridge 38 so the accidents are easy targets for criminals," says Kim.
Tuan vividly remembers the accident that occurred at 9.30pm on January 1, 2000. His family was watching TV when they heard a loud noise from the bridge. Tuan immediately brought his medical tools to the scene and saw a fallen car. While performing emergency aid, they witnessed a bunch of young people trying to steal a laptop and a briefcase containing VND15million ($715). Tuan and Kim immediately jumped out to stop the delinquents but were attacked and beaten. Only when the police showed up were the couple rescued.
Tuan and Kim's activities are now well-known in the surrounding area, and their neighbours enjoy recounting stories about their bravery.
"The dangerous section of Bridge 38 is one of the most significant issues for the province to address. However, thanks to the enthusiasm of Tuan and Kim, many lives have been saved. They have sacrificed a lot with no benefit to themselves," says Van Xuan Gop, vice chairman of the province's Red Cross Association. — VNS