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‘It’s just what we’re trained to do’
By Ma Yue

FOREIGN tourists praised for helping a woman who collapsed at a city Metro station have told Shanghai Daily that they are paramedics just doing what they’re trained to do.

Dutch couple Ben van der Ven and Monique Koster were in Shanghai on a 16-day holiday when they saw a commuter collapse at People’s Square Station at around 9am on May 22.

Accounts and photographs of them helping her were posted online and the couple were praised for their calmness, efficiency and professionalism.

Van der Ven, 45, e-mailed Shanghai Daily recently after seeing coverage in the newspaper and explained that he and Koster were volunteer paramedics with the Red Cross.

They are trained in lifesaving techniques including resuscitation, defibrillation oxygen treatment and advanced first aid.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 years, so are very experienced,” wrote van der Ven, whose several part-time jobs include working at an indoor ski slope and driving an ambulance.

Modestly, he downplayed the couple’s role in the incident, saying they didn’t do much apart from making sure the commuter, who had suffered an epileptic episode with severe muscle contractions, did not hurt herself.

Van der Ven also recounted how he and Koster helped the 57-year-old.

“We first look at the airway see if it’s clear. In this case, her tongue was between her teeth, so we solved that problem as you can easily bite off your tongue.

“After that, we looked at the breathing, which was very fast in this case, but also no problem.

“Then the circulation — a very high heartbeat, which is normal for the condition she was in.

“Normally, contractions stop after several minutes. People get very tired because of the attack,” van der Ven explained.

“A nice Chinese girl offered to translate, which she did perfectly.

“When the woman was coming to her senses again, she said that she had epilepsy. So we asked if she could sit in a quiet place for a while,” he added.

“The ambulance personnel checked her vital signs again, and after that, she could leave. Normally, you don’t have to go to hospital,” van der Ven said.

In photographs of the incident, van der Ven and his girlfriend are seen to be wearing medical gloves.

“We work with a protocol as safety is the first thing for us and the victim. Therefore, always gloves,” he explained.

“We also had a small medical kit with us, but didn’t need it.”

Helping someone who has fallen has become contentious in China, with high-profile cases of apparent victims blaming good Samaritans for their fall and claiming compensation.

Van der Ven said this has not happened to him and he would never hesitate to come to someone’s aid. “I work as a volunteer with the Red Cross and such news wouldn’t stop me.”

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