CHENNAI: In 2009, I had just completed my MBA in Marketing from London and come back to India. I was driving on a highway in Andhra Pradesh when I saw a car had rammed into a lorry parked on the roadside. There were two people inside the car — a woman in a semi-conscious state with glass pieces on her face and an unconscious man in a pool of blood. Despite not having any knowledge on first-aid, I helped them into my car and drove till Visakhapatnam, 80 kilometres away.
I ensured they did not fall asleep and kept talking to the lady. She told me that they fell in love in school, and had gotten married three days ago after a lot of struggle. They were on their way back to Visakhapatnam after visiting a temple. Her injured husband rested his head on her lap not knowing if they would survive. Luckily they did, and that was when I realised how precious life is.
I worked with a corporate company in Chennai. Two years later, I was watching a movie at a multiplex when the advertisement of Alert NGO, was played. It took me back to the incident and a week later, I was at the NGO learning first-aid. A few months later, I joined as a volunteer training people on first-aid, and taking workshops at IIT-Madras.
The first emergency I attended after receiving formal training was in 2013. I was driving on Chennai-Tada Highway when I saw around 40 people gathered around a car that rammed into a tree. My first instinct was to leave the place and I did. After a minute of driving, I came back to the accident spot. People were pulling the person out of the car, which is extremely dangerous.
Despite being a trainer, fear took over, and after I gained composure, I asked people to call ambulance, cleared the crowd, calmed the patient down, advised police to control the traffic so that there was no jam and most importantly stopped people from giving water to the patient, which is equivalent to poison during accidents. These constitute the thin line between life and death. When the patient was being moved into the ambulance, he held my hand and asked if I could go with him as he felt safer. Being a common man, to see a patient trust me more than the paramedics shook me.
All my life, my dream was to land a job in Bosch. In 2017, that dream came true and I moved to Bengaluru. Just a month after I joined, I realised my actual interest lay amid four walls with a group of first-aid trainees. So, I called the Alert management and joined as a secretary here. Though the pay was 60 per cent lesser than what I was earning at Bosch, the satisfaction was immense.
But, even a full-time job at the NGO was not easy for me. I had to run from pillar to post and about 25 days later, I thought probably Bosch was where I was destined to be. Amid the confusion, I was driving back home and was near the Porur flyover when I saw a man sitting with his back against the wall and his clothes were wet and dirty. Like most others on the road, even I thought he was drunk. But, I decided to go to a person nearby and ask. They told the man works in a tea stall nearby and was trying to cross the road when a bike hit him. He flew back, hit his head against the wall and vomited on his shirt. He was not drunk. People were confused, so they left him there.
I made him lie flat on the ground and checked if he was breathing and called an ambulance. After a few seconds, I checked again, but he had stopped breathing. I was numb for five minutes and then shouted in his ear if he could hear me. Thirty others joined me in shouting at 10.30 pm in the middle of the road. I then knew it was time for CPR and started giving compression. On the 18th compression, he came up a little, turned on one side and vomited blood, and then started breathing again. When I looked behind, there was pin drop silence and I could see everybody on the spot, including a 50-year-old police officer, with tears in their eyes. It showed we were all connected on some level.
Meanwhile, what I did not realise was I forgot my phone worth `1 lakh on the footpath. I was walking back to my vehicle when a 14-year-old boy dressed in a torn T-shirt and shabby pants returned it. He was holding on to it all the while and when I was going back to my bike, he gave it to me. That moment I knelt to the ground and broke down. I realised there is so much goodness in the world.
The next day, I happily went back to my office at Alert. Till date, I have trained more than 10,000 people on first aid and attended seven emergencies in the last one year. If I can do it, you can do it too.