The girl who fell down the stairs…

Girl who fell down stairs...

Good friends know to read my blog. Clever friends know to read my But the nosy friends know to read my flickr. This recent tale is for my nosy friends who got curious after seeing the photo above…

It was a dark and cold Friday evening (but of course). Knocking off from the Teaching & Learning Center around 7pm, I paced out of the library thinking of the weather I had to bear before reaching my car all the way across campus… about the distance of five blocks give or take. With a weary mind and a heavy heart (the PhD weighing heavily), I made up my mind to take the underground passages to escape the cold as much as possible.

As I took my first steps out of the Capen Undergraduate Library, I noticed a small commotion in the distance where I was headed. As I drew closer, I saw two Caucasian girls, one standing by, while another (probably her friend) squatting and tending to someone laying crumpled on the landing between the flights of stairs. There I saw an Asian girl, then I saw blood… lots of it.

My first thoughts were that this girl was physically attacked, but my rational bits told me that it’s in a common rather busy part of campus. So I inquired in the quickest of ways, “What happened?”

The Caucasian girl said that she saw her falling down the stairs. I later learned that it was the most unluckiest of falls… she had landed face first, knees and shoulder. While she could see her own blood soaked jeans, her glasses themselves, while partly wrangled, became rose colored lenses… lending themselves like a smeared canvas to her flowing dark biological fluid. Her upper right-side of her lips were torn, and a bruise was starting to take color out of her right cheek.

Seeing how the Caucasian girls couldn’t offer anything more to her, I said “I’ll take care of it”. Sheepishly, they left, leaving me to ask her if she could walk with me to my car.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

Jogging my memory for medical facilities around campus, the only place I could think of was Michael Hall, a medical clinic located at the South Campus. Unfortunately, this clinic would have been closed by now. The next best bet was to take her to the nearest hospital, which was the Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.

“I’ll bring you to the nearest hospital,” as I said, as I helped her with her bloodied disposable plastic book bag. I took the lead and she followed.

After winding through the underbelly of the North Campus, we emerged at the Student Union. At that point, I realized how there were two Student Affairs members sitting by the information desk. I went towards them and asked if they know of any medic on campus. They looked puzzled for a moment, then I brought the girl forward, “She fell down the stairs and needs help”.

The senior one took charge and said that Michael Hall would be closed. He then offered to call the police for assistance. Since it was noisy outside (there was a Family Weekend event), he went into the office to place the call. Moment later, he emerged somewhat embarrassed…

“Can I call you a cab?”

I had sensed this coming. I asked the obvious question so he noted how the campus police said they wouldn’t go beyond the campus grounds.

“Don’t worry, I’ll drive her there instead.”

If anything, time was being wasted. The girl was in pain and in a state of confusion. Opening the heavy doors, we proceeded through the path past the UB Commons, and eventually reach my car parked behind the Alumni Arena.

I quickly drove her out onto Maple Road, then made a left heading towards Transit. Along the way I tried to make her more comfortable by telling her I had taken two other friends to this hospital before, so I was pretty familiar with what to do. I did warn her though that even at the ER, it’s likely that she’ll have to wait quite a while before being seen. While this was true, part of it is to set her up with a low expectation, so that she wouldn’t be as unhappy while she waited.

About five minutes later, we reach the hospital and I motioned her to check in first. She stepped out of the car, and left the door open as she walked away. It seemed like her mind wasn’t certainly altogether, but I managed to reminded myself to be more patient. I quickly found a parking spot and paced my way to the hospital. In the lobby, she stood, waiting for me to tell her what to do. At this point, I didn’t know if I should pity her or be angry with her… after all, its her life and she should learn to be more independent. I might sound mean, but I personally prefer women with some backbone. That’s why I respect people who have gone through some form of hardship in life.

I asked her to follow me as I took her to the ER. Once there, I checked her in, then asked the nurse for an ice pack to compress her facial bruise. I later learned that she was a first year student from Cambodia, which explained why she had difficulty conversing in English. Off the bat, I knew she was going to get the loud treatment. It’s psychological, and even the nurse would raise their voice while questioning this girl for medical details. At the back of my mind, I knew that the trick was to maintain confidence, and look pissed when someone does that at you, to put them in their place. That I learned from the best. I explained the situation on the girl’s behalf, and asked the nurse to look at her bloodied jeans. The nurse explained that anytime someone get a cut on the face, it’s like asking for Niagara Falls of blood… it just keeps bleeding. After learning this little factoid, we returned to the waiting area.

While we waited for her name to be called up, I had her phone her friends, most of whom didn’t happen to drive. She eventually got hold of a senior student, who said he’d be over in half an hour. During this time, she inspected herself by pulling away sleeves and leggings to spot for injuries. Besides a deep gash on her lip, her left knee showed signs of abrasion, though it stopped bleeding. I told her she’d be fine… that the doctor would probably stitch up her wounds and she should be out and about by midnight or so. I’ve been there a few times to know.

While in pain, she turned to me, “I don’t know what would happen if you didn’t help me”.

Indeed, it’s quite amazing that on a huge international university campus like ours, there wasn’t any help available. I wonder why all she got was “sorry I can’t help you”. Should the university have done more, or should she have taken it upon herself to make more friends (e.g. via some student association)?

9 thoughts on “The girl who fell down the stairs…

  1. yeah sometimes i feel like if anybody has a heart attack on north campus he will definitely die. actually anywhere in amherst. saw an ambulance today going slower than any car on the street. pretty amazing.

  2. Kevin, could or would the staff in the union call an ambulance? I appreciate that you helped but as this young lady said, what if you did not come by.
    Thank you for filling in when university services seemed to fail.

  3. @SentosaGirl: It’s called “Top 10 posts, Views per post” by LaughingLizard. I can’t seem to find the direct link. It’s old though so might not run on your newer WordPress install.

    @Priscilla: It’s not too bad… nothing really broken from what i could tell. It’ll heal.

    @Malique: Ha. I’m motivated to help simply because I hope someone out there might return the favor in times of need. I’m selfish really.

    @Byu: Judging from what you experienced recently, I’d also say have an emergency friend on speed dial. In Buffalo, it’s free for all.

    @minterests: They could have, but it’s not that high level of an emergency. Just a medic applying some lotions, bandages or even stitches would have been good enough.

  4. Dropping out of lurker mode…

    As a white dude, I totally had to laugh at the following comment:

    “Seeing how the Caucasian girls couldn’t offer anything more to her…”

    Oh, we have all been there before. A little collection of girls who should be helping are just sitting there staring.

    “I didn’t know if I should pity her or be angry with her…”

    She is the proverbial fish out of water — and one who has just took a tumble down a flight of stairs. If she’s crazy enough to get into a car with some stranger, I am sure she’s still in shock-mode. Luckily for her, you were not.

    As a doctor (and someone seemingly never learned to shave his own face correctly) I agree that the face likes to bleed and bleed.

    You did the right thing… for no clear reason other than just doing the right thing.

    Bravo to you.

  5. @Davak: Thanks for delurking. Indeed, she was “fresh out from the boat” as we’d say over here. I’m just wishing for a simple medic outpost on campus where there seems to be none! 😉

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