It happened at 3.30 am on the 3rd of June 2010. Florina, 24 year old female student was driving her small car when it was involved in an accident with another car and a lorry. A passerby, Teo, saw that she was trapped in the wreckage and more ominously, there were sparks coming from the underside of the car.
With her screams for help ringing in his ear, he drove to a nearby petrol station with the intention of borrowing a fire extinguisher. He found two attendants inside the locked office. The two attendants refused to let Teo in and also refused to lend him the fire extinguisher. He then tried to buy the extinguisher outright but again the attendants refused. The attendants were suspicious about Teo’s story and were concerned that it may be a ploy to rob the petrol station. Teo tried his best to plead with them and also to convince them he was telling the truth by offering to leave his identification card but to no avail.
Teo returned to the accident scene and was powerless as he watched the car catch fire and Florina was burned to death.
News of what had happened spread rapidly on the internet through Facebook and other networks. The petrol station was part of the BHP chain and soon bloggers were calling for a campaign to Boycott InHumane Petrol.
However, the opinion was divided. Some felt that there was no excuse for not responding to save someone’s life in an emergency. However, others felt that the two attendants were understandably and merely reacting to instructions given to them by their employers in response to recent robberies at petrol stations in the early morning.
What do you think?
I had a similar experience more than 10 years ago. I drove past a man who was lying on the ground in a side lane, apparently suffering from a heart attack. I stopped my car and immediately flagged down a couple of policemen on motorcycles. When I explained to them what happened, they told me they could call for an ambulance but it might take too long to come and save the man. They urged me to put the man into my car and take him to the hospital.
I agreed and we placed the man in the back seat of the car. I then told the policemen that I planned to drive a short 5 minutes away to a doctor’s clinic so that the man can get medical help more rapidly (the hospital was 15-20 minutes away). They agreed.
When I reached the clinic, two of the doctors and a nurse were actually outside having a cigarette break as they had no patients waiting at that time. I got down and told them about the man in my car. To my horror, the doctors looked in and with out even examining the patient, told me I would have to go to the hospital.
I was shocked and insisted that they treat him. One of the doctors then asked me if I was an immediate relative (it was quite obvious that I was not as the man was Malay and I was Chinese). When I confirmed that I was not, she told me that unless the immediate family requests for treatment, they could get into legal problems. Again no pleading could shift them as they continued to puff on their cigarettes.
I was left with no choice. After wasting precious time arguing with the clinic doctors, I drove to the nearest hospital with police motorcycle escort. Sometime during this journey, the man stopped breathing and they failed to revive him in the hospital.
I later told this story to the police and to the man’s relatives and they all seemed to accept it as “fate”. I even talked to some doctor friends and they merely said that it was the way things are and the only advice they could offer was that in case of an emergency always head directly to a government hospital and not a private clinic or hospital as they latter often do turn away patients who are too seriously ill to avoid legal issues.
All I can say is that the way things are stinks.