February 13-19, 2009
At 3pm on a recent Friday, I received a distressed phone call from my wife, Ellie. She was involved in an accident at the Ramayana department store in Denpasar.
I immediately thought she had had a car accident and I headed straight to Ramayana by motorbike. However, she called back to say she was now at a local hospital and my 3-year-old son was bleeding badly.
The 15 minutes to arrive at the hospital was a total panic, not knowing what was going on. I rushed into a pretty ordinary hospital emergency (room) to find my son screaming and my wife holding him down. A split-second glimpse revealed the entire top of his foot had been peeled open like a banana skin.
I turned to my wife and asked if she was ok and she said, “I’m fine.” It was not a car accident. Our son Oscar’s foot had been sucked into the end of an escalator.
Trying to contain my emotions and see what had actually happened, I believe I could see bone and ligaments appearing from amongst the blood. The doctors quickly cleared the blood and pulled the wound closed to thread some string through.
Fifteen minutes later, Oscar was bandaged up, given some medicine and told not to walk on the foot for a while.
By now the painkiller had set in and Oscar was almost back to his usual self, without the running around. We immediately made plans and headed to a private hospital to have a specialist look at the foot.
The specialist, without hesitating, suggested he operate on the foot as the stitch job was terrible and he needed to clean the wound from any metal. I was not too thrilled about putting Oscar in for an operation, but knew the job needed to be done correctly, so the hospital told us to take a seat and wait for the insurance company to confirm they would cover the procedure. How long we had to wait was totally unknown, and from my experience it could be 24 hours.
So we did a runner to an international hospital for a second opinion. And Once again we got the same response: the foot needed to be operated on.
After one hour, a specialist arrived and he opened the stitches; the foot flopped opened and revealed a 2cm-deep gash from the second biggest toe till the top of the foot. “OK. Once we have clearance from the insurance company, we will commence an operation to clean and check the ligaments.” An X-Ray had shown no bone damage. So now we were awaiting approval from the insurance company for the operation; nobody knew how long this would be. However the staff at the international hospital were fantastic and made us feel comfortable the entire time. Thank God for our insurance, and cable TV, as the cost for the operation alone was more than three times (that of) the earlier hospital.
At 1am we got the go-ahead from the insurance company and Oscar was taken in for a 1.5-hour operation that cleaned and mended one ligament. The wound was closed with a skin graft from the side of his foot.
The following day it seemed the painkillers were working well and Oscar was back to his cheeky ways. He was in fits of laughter telling his little cousin how the steps had eaten his foot. We spent the following night in hospital, and headed home about 3pm on Sunday. Oscar will have to stay off the foot for two weeks and we pray he gets no infections.
I have since gone back to Ramayana to inspect the escalator as I was informed by my wife that part of the grid at the bottom of the stairs was missing – this is how the foot was sucked under.
However when I inspected the escalator, they had replaced part of the grid with new parts. Ramayana suggested our son was lucky he was wearing thick shoes and only received a scratch (in their opinion). They told me a young girl had almost lost her foot.
Having mentioned Oscar’s experience to several friends, I’m hearing how frequent these accidents occur. Ellie also mentioned the machine was difficult to stop at the time and a stranger had to kick the button several times.
I also noticed some of the emergency stop buttons were actually missing from entire escalators. In the end I may speak to the manager of Ramayana and suggest they maintain the escalators better. However I think I’ll just be wasting my breath.
So for all of you with little kids, be aware of the hungry escalators. It’s not a myth; it really happens. Also be aware in Indonesian hospitals: they prefer to have payment prior to doing the work, so make sure your insurance company can give the go-ahead quickly or carry a credit card.
I would like to raise a subject that I believe needs attention.
We are building projects here and are trying to honor the Kyoto agreement in regards to emission of harmful gasses and using more renewable sources of energy. On top of it, we had a big environmental conference here in Bali last year.
It seems that the government is not so willing to use the 12 hours of sunshine that we enjoy here in Indonesia.
We can’t get a building license because we do not want to use the government-subsidized PLN electricity.
We want to run our projects totally on sun energy as well as promoting this around the world – that here in Bali is the first establishment that totally runs solar energy.
Indonesia, Bali, only sold bedrooms to all these people who came here for the environmental seminar. Nothing is being followed through with people who have the best interests in this country – even though we are foreigners!
I really would like to involve ministers and the media to make a big point out of this.
I wonder if you have the cojones to print this observation of the Bali enigma?
Do not trust the indigenous chappies because you can always rely on them to let you down when it really matters…
They always smile a lot to your face but when you’re not looking they will rob you blind!
Report a theft to the police and only then do you really understand why it’s a third world country – you are passed to three different departments, each of which require smelling salts (or commission) to make a decision or even bother.
C’est la vie and God bless the next poor shmuck of a tourist (who will no doubt spread the word if things do not change).
Globe TrotterFiled under: Letters