Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Japan - Ambulance Experience

It's not part of the Enoshima-Kamakura field trip, but since it just happened about 12 hours ago I can't think of anything else but this incident.

Basically, Americans have a habit of doing pre-gaming (i.e., drinking alcoholic drinks bought from supermarket or stores before heading off for a drink in a bar or other places that serve alcoholic drinks). Doing so will help lower the total cost required to get you drunk.

I wasn't planning on going all night for a karaoke session till morning because.. I wasn't invited in the first place. I only found out about the plan accidentally last night when I was about to ask one of them if they would like to head out with me on Saturday (which is today). Thanks to that, I didn't have any preparations for pre-gaming. Which I don't normally do, anyways. I'm not too inclined to having fun from drinking alcohol and getting high.

Before we headed to the karaoke place, we had some alcoholic drinks at an izekaya close to the karaoke place. We had fun until about 3 am... when one of us started to show signs of alcohol poisoning.

Long story short, she drank way too much (3/4 bottle of vodka, 1 tequila shot, 2 cans of some alcoholic drinks, and god knows what else was consumed yesterday). Me? Personally, I can get drunk from 1 bottle of beer. Yes, I'm very weak. And knowing that, I don't normally drink anything hardcore.

We couldn't move her and she seemed to keep losing her consciousness. At times she would respond to a question with nods and head shakes, but her motor control was seriously affected. I tried calling our dorm manager but she didn't respond. Finally, I tried to contact our student coordinator, and he suggested to call the ambulance.

And so we decided to call the ambulance. The number is 113.

Calling the ambulance didn't cost any money, which is a really good incentive to call them. In the US, you'd have to pay $500 each time you call for an ambulance regardless of the condition. Within less than 10 minutes, the ambulance came.

The medics tried to get responses from my drunk friend before anything else. Also, they have this awesome blood tension (and some other things I don't understand) checker. They just needed to clip a couple of her fingers and they could get immediate readings. When they need further information regarding the patient, they have this guide sheets with pictures that are very easy to understand. It's written in both Japanese and English, so if you don't understand what they were saying or asking, they would use the picture board to explain.

The picture board was a very useful and thoughtful item. In the past, they probably faced problems helping people who don't understand Japanese, can't hear properly, or simply don't understand the vocabularies, and that's how they came up with such brilliant initiatives.

I forgot how they managed to get her on the wheeled bed, but afterwards the medics asked if one of us could accompany her and somehow I ended up doing so.

The medics were very kind and amiable; it was really easy to talk to them and they understood that I could not speak Japanese too well. They tried to speak slowly and explain things in easier words. And sometimes they would mix in some English words whenever I showed them my "Huh? I don't understand, can you repeat it one more time?" facial expression.

When we reached the hospital (quite a distance away; it's actually a private hospital in Shinjuku, not in Ikebukuro), she was sent to the ER, and I was asked to fill in a particulars form for her. As I filled in the form, I faced a problem with counting the year in Japanese calendar year. I only know I was born in Heisei 1, but what Heisei year is it right now?

But luckily, the hospital members were very helpful so I didn't have too much problem with the registration (uketsuke in Japanese - now that vocab will forever be etched in my memory).

My friend was finaly dischared about 15-20 minutes after because by that time she could talk and somehow she could stand. We proceeded with the payment... 8000 yen. Yup. Just for the admittance fee. She didn't get any treatment.

And there was only 4000 yen in her wallet.

Fortunately enough, she has a credit card that is usable. Otherwise, I don't know how I should deal with the situation.

So yes, I had a rather unique experience with the ambulance and the hospital. I'd say that was the first time I've ever been in an ambulance and everything was happening in Japanese. There were a lot of vocabs that I couldn't understand as I talked to the medics and the hospital doctor.

Maybe handling conversations in this kind of situation is probably something that should be highlighted when someone is studying Japanese / just came to Japan to study.


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