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28 May 2024
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 mainly were 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 minor road that ran along the beach and I wanted to say I had been swimming in the sea whilst staying there. I locked up my hotel room and walked past the small cabana bar next to the swimming pool and restaurant on the hotel grounds. As I walked past there where three married couples sat around the bar. They all looked quite happy, laughing and joking, but had partaken of too much of the local rum and smoked too much of the local ganja.

I walked along the beach by crossing the road and 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 and girls, I decided that I felt safer back at the hotel bar. I walked back along the road and turned into the hotel grounds.

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

I approached the pool and dived in. I put my arms under his and pulled him to the surface but could not get him out of the pool alone. I shouted at his friends, who had now realised he was in trouble. They helped me get him out of the pool as I held him afloat. 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 and put the man in a   recovery position, checking his airwaves and checking that he was breathing.

After my car accident the previous year, I had a few epileptic fits and knew what to look for in others, and I knew how I felt when I had them. After getting him in the recovery position, I held his hand, spoke to him softly and told him that I would not leave him. A girl that was with him was trying to push me away from him and screaming at me when another English girl, who 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 doing everything that could be done for him, and that an ambulance had been called. 

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

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

We spoke for a while and the man I had saved told me that when it was happening, he was aware of everything but couldn't speak. This was precisely what I remembered from the fits I had. He hugged me again and 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 that I had held his hand, spoken to him and continued doing this until the ambulance arrived. I finished my drink and returned to my room, leaving them all at the bar.

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