Trouble on the River

Tagged along with a tour group to spend the day at a nearby river.  During our lunch, a German couple came down in a canoe with the man lying pale and silent in the bottom of the boat.  He had tried to jump off a waterfall and broken his leg.

The beach we were at was a good hour from the nearest town, which was another hour or two from a proper health clinic that could handle a splint and cast job.  Neither of them spoke Spanish, and she only spoke a little English.  Tide was high and the waves were pretty rough, especially for the little fiberglass boats everyone uses here.

But that was as far as the bad news went.  Everyone around pitched in to help.  Some local boys hanging around the kayak rental place waved their arms and flagged down a passing boat.  The owner donated his mattress as a makeshift stretcher.  Several people donated splints, bandages, padding.  One of our group was a doctor who was able to temporarily set, splint, and get the patient to lie down so as not to black out from shock.  And they managed to beach and launch the boat, even with breakers pushing a meter high.  And while no one had painkillers strong enough, someone managed to dig up a bottle of cheap rum for the poor guy.

I know that no decent human would just leave an injured person to their pain, but I was still impressed with how much everyone was willing to do to help.  In the absence of ambulances or medivac, people take care of each other out here.  But that’s still not a situation I want to find myself in.  He’ll probably be alright, but jeez, what a way for a vacation to go.

Have fun, but stay safe out there.

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