Accessibility Tools

Thursday, June 01, 2023
Man in recovery position

In 1991 I went on a two-week holiday to Jamaica. I stayed in Negril in a very small family-run hotel. It wasn't very well run. Apart from the barman at the poolside bar most of the staff were mostly noticeable by their absence.

Saving a drowning man.

One afternoon I decided to go for a walk along the beach. The hotel was on the small road that ran along the beach & I wanted to say I had been swimming in the sea whilst staying there. I locked up my hotel room & walked past the small cabana bar that was next to the swimming pool & restaurant on the hotel grounds. As I walked past there where three married couples sat around the bar, they all looked quite happy laughing & joking but had partaken of a little too much of the local rum & smoked a bit too much of the local ganja.

I went for my walk along the beach by crossing the road & going down to the beach. I walked along the beach for about half an hour, but after being stopped by lots of different locals offering me everything from rum, beer, ganja & girls I decided that I felt safer back at the hotel bar. I walked back along the road & turned into the hotel grounds.

As I walked towards the pool I could see the three women talking & the three men laughing & joking by the pool as I approached. One of the men, a very large well built man was mucking about close to the pool & looked like he had slipped & fallen into the pool. As he came up he was waving his arms in the air before going back under the water. As he sank under the water I could see his body convulsing under the water & I guessed he was having an epileptic fit. His friends ignored him, thinking that he was mucking about.

I approached the pool & dived in. I put my arms under his & pulled him to the surface but could not get him out of the pool on my own. I shouted at his friends who had now realised that he really was in trouble. As I held him afloat they helped me get him out of the pool. His two friends decided it was a good idea to punch him in the stomach to make him throw up the water he had swallowed. I climbed out of the pool & pushed them both out of the way & put the man in a recovery position checking his airwaves & checking that he was breathing.

After my car accident the previous year I had a few epileptic fits & knew what to look for in others & I knew how I felt when I had them. After getting him in the recovery position I held his hand & spoke to him softly & told him that I would not leave him. A girl that was with him was trying to push me away from him & screaming at me when another English girl, that was on holiday at the hotel, pulled her back. She then told the girl that she was an NHS nurse in the UK & that I was indeed doing everything that could be done for him & that an ambulance had been called. 

After the girl had been pulled away by her friends the English nurse knelt down next to me & asked if I needed any help. I told her that I wasn't a doctor & had no medical training & that she should take over. She asked me how I knew he was having a fit & I told her that I suffered from them occasionally & had learnt what to do in a hospital. She told me I was doing fine & let me carry on. I kept talking to the man & continued to hold his hand & comfort him. A short time later the small crowd that had surrounded us parted to let an ambulance in & I made way for the ambulance crew to take over. As the English nurse told the ambulance crew what had happened I watched as they put him into the back of the ambulance & took him away before I went back to my hotel room to get out of my wet clothes & dry off.

A couple of days later I was returning from a day out to the Black River. I walked towards my room & as I went past the pool bar I saw the group of people & the man that I had saved a couple of days before. I saw one of the women point towards me & as I walked past them, the man I had saved approached me. He told me that his wife had told him that it had been me that had dived into the swimming pool & saved his life & thanked me for my help. He then burst into tears, threw his arms around me & gave me a big hug. He eventually pulled away from me & asked if I would join him & his wife & friends at the bar. I walked towards the bar with him & was introduced to his wife & friends. His wife also hugged me & thanked me for saving his life before asking me if they could buy me a drink. They had been told by the barman that I was drinking Guinness & bought me a pint of Guinness. I noted that they were all drinking what looked like a fruit cocktail & asked what it was, they then told me they had all stopped drinking after the incident & that it was plain orange juice & that they had all stopped smoking ganja as well.

We spoke for a while & the man I had saved told me that when it was happening he was aware of everything but hadn't been able to speak. This was exactly what I remembered from the fits I had. He hugged me again & started to cry again as he told me that he could hear everything but had been very frightened because he couldn't talk. He then told me that the most comforting thing was the fact that I had held his hand, spoken to him & continued doing this until the ambulance arrived. I finished my drink & went back to my room leaving them all at the bar.

When I went to the bar later that evening the barman was on his own & told me that the people had all asked him to thank me again. They had all decided to cut their holiday short & had in fact been waiting to see me before getting a taxi to the airport & getting early flights back to the UK. I often think of him & wonder what he is doing know & wonder if he ever smoked weed again.