Crossing Cambodia

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

After the accident

Today's (27 March 2007) Khmer 440 site gives an in-depth look of the Cambodian emergency services. Not a pretty picture apparently. Here's an excerpt concerning a traffic accident:
A large crowd of people had gathered just opposite [author's restaurant] – rubber-neckers enjoying a little local carnage. A cyclo and moto had collided; the injuries had been sustained not by the actual drivers or passengers, but by a hapless passing motodop who stopped to try to calm down the respective parties and had nine bells kicked out of him by the two thugs on the bike.

I observed the scene for half an hour as we waited for and ate our meal. I saw up to a hundred people standing around, blocking the passing traffic; I saw people pushing food-selling carts stop to get a bit of trade whilst the residents of the flats above relaxed on their verandas with drinks to watch the spectacle; I saw the police who inhabit the corner to extract on-the-spot ‘fines’ surreptitiously slip away (Two cops did belatedly show up). What I didn’t see was one single person call an ambulance or even stroll the 50 metres along the road to the nearby hospital with its emergency ward. My girl explained why: if an ambulance is summoned, the first thing the paramedics do is demand an outrageous fee. If the person cannot or will not pay they will literally drive off, leaving the victim to bleed to death.
After this follows a complete expose on how emergency services work and how they are financed. The first commentator has stressed how you should not believe exaggeration (about the money matters). But in all the above does draw a near precise view of what happens after an accident. Loads of people turn up and most watch resulting in a flash-market!

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