Sunday, November 16, 2008

Death at Hong Kong Airport

I am now in LA for PhoCusWright after ending last week in Hong Kong. The flight from Hong Kong was long and painful. Twelve hours in economy class with no reading light and no VOD. That sounds bad - but it is nothing compared to the emotionally charged and draining time spent at gate 64 of Hong Kong airport. For those that know Hong Kong well, gate 64 is next to the entrance/exit of the the second of the Cathay Pacific lounges at Hong Kong airport. I therefore left the lounge with only 15 minutes to go before departure. I arrive to two sights. The first is the long long queue of people to join this soon to be full (if not over booked) 747.

The second is a collection of very serious and official looking people. A mixture of paramilitary security officials, flustered immigration agents, panicked Cathay attendants and four paramedics. Two of the paramedics are working furiously on a prone man in his mid sixties. One is bashing his chest. The other is pumping a hand ventilator with determination but also a sense of loss. Then they all seem to stop. They stop the CPR, they stop the hand ventilation and they change the look of determination to one of resignation. Then efficiently and respectfully they load the man onto a gurney and rush him out toward the main part of the terminal. The paramedics continue to try resuscitation techniques but it clear from their behaviour and the state of the patient that it is too late.

I have never seen death up close before like this. It does not have any of the complexity or drama that you read or see in theatre or cinema. It is simple, a man falls and other people try to pick him up.

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