Educate accident “eye witnesses”

 
The author, Mr John Riaga

We have just come from the long Easter holidays. I hope you and your people are well and safe. Sadly, as usual we had numerous lives lost on our killer roads. Sadly, most of these deaths could have been avoided if the right lessons were given to the right people.

Have you ever been involved in a near-death road accident? If no, thank God. If yes, you can thank God as well, but I am sure you know how it feels, a few seconds before the accident.

My good friend Obosi Sirikal usually jokes that the people in a car that is about to crash or be involved in whatever kind of accident usually have their eyes and mouths wide open in fear of having their lives and plans coming to an end and getting an unplanned journey into the “mahali pema peponi”.

It is a very sad scenario especially bearing in mind that in Kenya most accidents, fatal or not, are often the mistake of carelessness and human error. The sadder part of the story has to with the “eye witnesses”. Why do they make the story sadder? I will explain next.

A few days ago, a journalist in one of the leading local dailies penned an intriguing piece on Kenyans who prey on road accident victims. They mercilessly loot vehicles and empty pockets and bags of the victims without any bit of sense and reverence to the lives of the fellow human beings, or Kenyans at that.

I don’t remember what the title of his story was, but he especially talked about a notorious section along the Nakuru- Eldoret Highway. Along this stretch, crooks waylay lorries with huge cargo struggling up hill and take their sweet time to empty the trucks, throwing the goods in nearby bushes. Once the trucks are done with the steep road, these fellows jump off and stay in wait for their next target.

Word has it these same people, would promptly appear whenever an accident occurs along this stretch and do their “thing”. In fact there is every reason to believe to believe that more than half of the people who perished in the Sachang’wan fire tragedy were looters! And that they were not mere victims of an unfortunate fuel tanker accident, but inhumane Kenyans who have no feelings of remorse, even to the dying. You can believe what you want to, but I believe this theory.

In my article last week, I closed by promising to write something about these people living along major highways, and more especially black spots. While the government is struggling to set up highway rescue centers, some attention must be given to these Kenyans. Somebody has to instill some lessons on them.

A road accident scene. Photo/ semaniseme.com

Take for example, if the people around Sachang’wan were educated on what to do in case of such accidents, how many of those deaths would have been averted? Many, if not all, I think. I am of the opinion that while Nyong’o (Medical Services Minister) and Ole Tito (Traffic Commandant) try to address this menace, somebody should reach out to the communities around the black spots and give them some basic First Aid lessons.

Whether it is looters along the steep stretch of the Eldoret – Nakuru highway, or the fuel looters in Sachang’wan and Sidindi or milk-siphoning residents of Rabuor area along the Kisumu-Ahero road, they must be told that it is an evil way of life.

This will help them save their own lives by knowing what situations to get close to and what to do to avoid being hurt and at the same time it will help save the lives of accident victims. I am sure the First Aid lessons would include how to handle various accidents including the deadly fuel tanker ones and those involving smaller vehicles that seem harmless. Many people have been involved in grisly road accidents where they survive amidst several deaths, only to succumb to injuries as a result of mishandling by the bystanders.

My niece Leanne, one day came to me crying that her brother and a cousin had carried her around kama nyama (like a piece of freshly slaughtered cow). Unfortunately this is the scene you will most likely witness at an accident scene inKenya. We all can surely do with some basic education on how to handle accidents and accident victims.

We can all learn how to give a hand without causing further injuries to victims. In deed there is a lot to learn. For example, the resuscitation position for the unconscious, how to handle those with spinal injuries, the kiss of life, what to do to a fire victim and so on and so forth!

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About meshakenya

Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture in Kenya (MESHA) is an association of communicators who are specialized in science, environment, agriculture, health, technology and development reporting.
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4 Responses to Educate accident “eye witnesses”

  1. Wilfred Muchire says:

    John, that is a good piece that depicts what happens. The idea of First Aids lessons to people who live near or around the so called blackspots is most welcome. However, in my opinion, it would be more appropriate if all Kenyans underwent basic drills on First Aid and Disaster Management.
    With good planning some NGOs and the Government can support this. Red Cross Society has periodically been training people (those who are willing) a few tricks on First Aid. It can also be made mandatory that all public and private learning institutions, from Kindergartens to Universities start training their students on First Aid and Disaster Management.
    If this is done, I believe a lot will change.

  2. James Karuga says:

    I have actually read that sometimes adhoc road rescues make an accident victim worse. How the victim is carried especially on spinal issues may determine whether he/she walks again or not. But then again not many Kenyan know this and in urgency to help they make matters worse. On the others who “help” themselves with victims valuables well thats a cancer of greed that sometimes ends with their being roasted in tankers. I concur that in accident prone highways there is need to have such rescue centres. lets hope its not only a policy to be debated but comes to being. Nice Post from writer though tragic

  3. Martha says:

    I totally agree, that there is need to educate the masses on helping the vicitm and not themselves. I know of a recent road acccident in my home area, where this chinese trucks run down a miwa(sugarcane ) vendor on his way to buy stock . The few friends that witnessed the story actually stole from his , the little cash he had .
    The fear of been haunted by dead people is no longer a truth for many .

  4. John Riaga says:

    I concur dear colleagues. I wish Red Cross or whoever could reach out and give the basic training, things could change for the better.

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