Why do Kenyans fear to help accident victims? How I saved a life.

Photo: Courtesy.

Nairobi, Kenya.

It’s a lazy day and everyone is still in that holiday mood that sets in between boxing-day and New Year’s. It’s our last day of vacation and we’ve been out shopping all day. It’s around 5:30pm, and I’m driving along the Eastern Bypass. I decide to go meet someone at Kayole junction before heading home to start our trip to the airport. Our flight is in about 5 hours, but we’re about 25 minutes to the airport.

I exit at Ruai Bypass junction to join Kangundo Road. Right before K-Mall Komarock, I see someone lying on the road. He appears dead. My wife and five-month-old son are in the car. We both agree to stop. The car in front of us stops too and a couple gets out. They pull the guy to the side of the road and then they join a crowd that’s quickly gathering there staring at the helpless man. The man is bleeding from his head but not much.

I step out of the car and runs there. By now there are about 25 people standing around the man. “Huyu ashaa enda” claims one guy. From their talks, I gather that the guy was trying to hang on a moving truck when he lost his grip and fell from the moving lorry.

Immediately my fear of Komarock and Kayole vanishes and I jump in the circle that’s getting smaller and crowded each second. I check the guy’s pulse on his neck and feel nothing, and I immediately start CPR. It’s been raining and the roadside is wet. He’s a tall guy, and I need him to stay straight as I do the chest compressions. I ask for help in keeping him straight and steady, but you’d think he’s an alien from the space. Nobody wants to touch him. I move the guy alone and I get to do 25 steady compressions. “Haiya, ehoo” (“wow, he’s alive”). Shouts one onlooker.

The man coughs and lifts his head. He then opens his eyes and sits up. He’s smelling alcohol, and he’s drooling. He holds my hand, and at that point, I knew my job was done. I asked the onlookers to move him from the roadside, and I ran to join my family in the car and proceeded with our drive.

It took me about four minutes to do all that, but there were people standing there watching the guy longer than that. They had even declared him dead, he probably was.

There is a need to bolster first aid lessons in Kenya. Some people know how to help and are willing to, but there’s a culture of fear that’s very difficult to understand. First Aid should actually be part of driving lessons. Ten minutes before that incident we had come across another major accident along the Eastern Bypass.

Someone’s dad, brother, and son could not have gone home that evening, but I believe he did because someone did something.

Be your brother’s keeper!