Monday, 2 August 2010

HYPOTHERMIA AND HEARTBREAK: SUFFERING AND VOYEURISM AT DANDENONG POLICE STATION

This word scares the living daylights out of me -
ever since the events of 18 September 2009.

When I - and a lot of others - thought about hypothermia,
we thought of a scene like this...
Who would think it possible to get the first symptoms
sitting, singing and chatting with a group of people
around this...
But that is what happened to me one September evening
on a property 15 minutes out of Bungendore, near Canberra.

I thought I was going to die.  So did my friends.  The paramedics were called. I am a diabetic and, when told of this, the paramedics believed my symptoms were consistent with a hypoglycaemic attack.  They gave me an injection and sweet stuff out of a tube and I began to come around - although I felt I had been run over by the No. 10 bus.  Next morning, I went to the GP in Bungendore.  He checked for everything - and everything was OK.  He also became the first in a line of medicos to tell me that, whatever it was, it could not have been a hypoglycaemic attack because that was impossible due to the medication I was on. IT NEVER HAPPENS, they all said.

Eventually, a specialist diagnosed hypothermia with a great deal of certainty - even though she wasn't present at the time.  I have come across two cold climate people who, when I tell them the story and the symptoms, nod knowingly when hearing of the hypothermia diagnosis.  So there you are.  Since coming from the tropics to live in Melbourne six years ago, I have never acclimatised to the cold and its - more likely than not -accompanying gloom.  Now, since the events of last year, I am terrified of the cold and of being cold.  Absolutely, appallingly, horrifyingly terrified.

So please imagine my horror and my heartfelt empathy when I read this story in The Age to-day relating to hypothermia and a man who had been held in police custody in Dandenong and then chucked out into outer darkness where there was nothing but the gnashing of voyeuristic police teeth.  

Who were the police who looked on so callously at the suffering of this man?  Blood relatives of the guards in Nazi concentration camps? Had they been trained in Abu Ghraib?  Clearly, they have flunked Human Rights 101.  Clearly, they should get due process and procedural fairness - and then be sacked.  Not demoted, sacked. 

They should be sent to where bad policemen and policewomen go
 and from where they can never return ever to harm or hate people again.

Related Reading:
Hypothermia Frostbite And Other Cold Injuries: Prevention, Recognition, Rescue, and Treatment


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