On a hike up Diamond Head on the island of Oahu, I saw something that really made me appreciate the country in which we live.
For those not familiar with Diamond Head, it is an extinct volcano located on the southeastern tip of Oahu. The landmark is a popular site for tourists, and by climbing a trail to its 760 foot summit, they are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of Honolulu, Waikiki, and the Pacific Ocean.
View from the top of Diamond Head
When we arrived on the summit, we were met not only with the famous, magnificent view, but also with something completely unexpected – a medical emergency in progress. A Japanese tourist had fainted at the top, exhausted after making the climb. Attending him were a doctor who happened to be there, and another hiker who acted as an interpreter.
Far below us a fire engine roared through the tunnel that had been drilled into the crater wall years ago, and before long a helicopter appeared. The aircraft stopped at the bottom, then flew up to a helo pad near the summit.
Out hopped a Hawaiian firefighter, who raced to the top.
The helo left, then returned with another firefighter. The two men worked with the doctor and translator to check vitals, administer first aid, and stabilize the Japanese man.
They eventually flew him to the bottom and rushed him to the hospital.
As I watched all this, I contemplated what must have been going on in that man’s head. He had fainted on top of a volcano 4000 miles from home, in a foreign country where virtually no one speaks his native tongue. And yet, a throng of people rushed to his aid. A doctor volunteered his time to apply emergency first aid at the scene. A young man offered to translate for the two men. A fire engine rushed to the area, a helo flew to the summit, and two firefighters treated him on site. Awaiting him down below was some of the best medical care offered anywhere in the world. All of this – all of the people, equipment and time – for one man.
He must have been thinking, “What a magnificent country this is.”
I don’t know, maybe he wasn’t thinking that at all.
But I was.