Would you call an ambulance?

Yesterday we traveled with some friends for lunch at Angas Plains Winery, south of Adelaide. As we set off the weather was mild and quite a few children’s fluffy clouds drifted across the sky. We anticipated a warm, leisurely time under the open verandah at our destination, being plied with tapas-style food and rich red wine. Lovely.

Well, we did eventually enjoy our lunch, but were interrupted repeatedly by something rather bizarre and frankly scary!

As we started our first bottle of wine and ordered our food I saw a couple entering the verandah area, the woman apparently frail and leaning on her much larger companion’s arm. This wasn’t particularly alarming, but then suddenly the male companion was on the ground! I watched as several people rushed over to them and discovered the man must have either passed out for a second or had tripped and bumped his head on a deck chair. They seemed to have things under control, seating the man and woman and moving a table to them for their meal. Apparently the couple were from Berlin in Germany and had driven a hire car from Sydney, NSW over the past ten days, planning on leaving from Adelaide in four more days time.

We got to eating and enjoying ourselves again, suitably distracted from the upset and trying not to have an argument about climate change! Our food selection involved some fantastic sourdough bread, gleaming gold olive oil and a very tasty homemade dukkah. This was followed by a selection of prawn & spice dim sum, some chorizo, chicken & chili kebabs and spannakopita (spinach & ricotta in filo pastry triangles). We succumbed to dessert later, despite having vowed to avoid it as a health hazard!

However, our meal was interrupted again by the wobbly German couple attempting to depart. Sure enough, as soon as the guy stood up, he keeled over. He managed to collapse in a sitting position this time, but skinned both his arms, tore his finger tips and nails on the left and I soon noticed some blood seeping through the knee of his trousers. A crowd of helpers gathered around and managed to keep him seated against the big barn door there as I tried to get some info from the couple. First, I asked the woman if her husband’s medication had been changed recently. “No” she said, “not for years”. [!!] I asked if he was on medication for hypertension, his heart or his balance and I don’t think her English was up to it. She just told me “It’s his diabetes. He’s always falling over. That’s how he is”. So I just told her they ought to take him back to the doctor when they reached home, silently thinking I should really call an ambulance, as the guy looked deathly pale and didn’t seem able to speak.

After cleaning his wounds and staying with the couple a while, the guy wanted to stand up and get in their car, but it was parked about 100metres away in a gravel-covered carpark. This was hopeless, so I got the woman to give the car keys to Spotrick to bring the car right over near the door. After helping the guy sit in the car and recover [??] his faculties, we left them to it, sitting down again to resume our meal.

As soon as the hire car took off, we could all see (and hear) that the guy had left the handbrake on!! He slowed & stopped before attempting to turn left and out of the carpark and we all heaved a sigh of relief that he had discovered his oversight.

But ohs noez!! He roared off again, rear wheels stationary and dragging behind the car, gravel spitting everywhere from the front tyres! Suddenly I was off after them, breaking the world land speed record in my inadequate strappy sandals! I got abreast of the driver’s window, waving my arms and yelling “Stop! Stop!”. For what seemed like ages, he continued to force the car along, speeding up! I found a further burst of acceleration myself and managed to run a bit ahead of him, catching his attention with my flailing arms! 

Phew! He stopped and rolled down the window. I told him & made gestures with my hands to snap off the handbrake and he realised his mistake and drove off OK.

Should I have called an ambulance?

I really thought about calling the ambos as none of us thought that man was safe to drive, but he wasn’t drunk so the manager couldn’t take his car keys legally and I can imagine the fiery reaction! Probably the couple were dead scared that the guy would be hospitalised in Australia where he couldn’t speak the language and no one knew his medical history. His wife was not brave enough to attempt to drive here on the “wrong” side of the road though I think I would have been tempted in her position. Neither person seemed to have any idea that the guy was suffering multiple medical problems besides a bit of Type 2 diabetes and seemed never to have heard the words “hypertension” or “high blood pressure” in English anyway.

I hope they get safely back to Germany, without needing a stretcher and oxygen on the plane! Scary stuff.

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