Medical emergency in Shanghai


We found a Brit in a pool of blood this morning, on our way to the bakery. He was looking really ill, surrounded by people, but nobody did anything. At that point he wasn’t able to speak, or move around, later we discovered that he had cut his wrist by accident inside his apartment, where he lost a considerable amount of blood, made his way downstairs and basically fell on the curb where he was bleeding for 30 min. more. Ofcourse the group of bystanders, of which two Chinese/New Zealand students, had called an ambulance 30 min earlier but they were told that there were none. We called again but didn’t get through. Luckily, the police drove by and proposed to drop him off. We lifted him in the back of a police car, on our way he told me that he felt he was going to die. I identified his bloodtype in case he would pass out and we got him inside the ER and arranged the paperwork. He didn’t carry much on him but had some ID and insurance info in his pocket. I felt helpless trying to explain the English details to the Chinese staff, they couldn’t understand me. A few minutes later, the two New Zealand / Chinese bystanders arrived at the hospital with my wife to help out. The hospital was sure to confirm insurance before treating him after which he was properly taken care off. We stayed for a couple of hours and saw to it that he got the proper care. I also called the British consulate, who apparently put me though to the emergency call center in London. The operator didn’t speak Chinese so explaining him the Chinese hospital name and Chinese street details lead to a very confusing call. Seemed like a sluggish system, considering the amount of Brits that live in P.R.C.? I have to say that the Shanghai police really helped him out, first of all taking him into a car (taxi wouldn’t allow that) and trying to locate his friend. In a situation like this, you cannot depend on the ambulance to come and pick you up. I’ve seen pedestrians hit by cars and eventually put inside taxi’s to the hospitals. It’s not rare if bystanders don’t react. If you see an actual ambulance, they are poorly equipped and drive much slower then they should. My wife has studied Chinese for quite some time now, she mentioned they studied a lot about culture and history, but never did they talk about what to do in a medical emergency, something that would have been useful. All you foreigners abroad, be sure to carry your ID and insurance with you at all times.

6 thoughts on “Medical emergency in Shanghai

  1. Wow, good thing you two did. At the same time thinking, what would happen to me in the same situation? Hoping for a Joop and Suna?

    I have this ICE in my phone, but I also have a passcode… not so usefull :-D

  2. Wouter

    Hi Joop, medical care in China is still different. “No ambulances at the moment” is quite common here. Last Monday we had an incident with a guy on the pitch where we play football. Ambulance took 40 minutes, no AED close by (was hart attack)….he died at 22 years old.

    So yeah, have your insurance card with you, a credit card with a high limit and a shitload of luck if you get something in China :)

    • Anonymous

      Sorry to hear that Wouter, what a terrible situation. That 22 year old is too young to go!

  3. Bart Lapers

    Joop, very brave of you to take all the listed actions for a ‘total stranger’.  I hope a similar person will be present in case I would get caught up in a medical emergency.  I’ve also witnessed several accidents in China myself, each time same scenario, a lot of Chinese would come ‘to have a look’ but nobody actually takes any actions to assist the person(s) in need.  They leave it up to the ‘official instances’ responsible for such things, very disturbing to witness.

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