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Emergency response – Lessons from the Katumba Wamala incident

Katumba minutes after he was shot. Emergency efforts that followed were haphazard, and showed many Ugandans need education on first aid.

COMMENT | Samson Tinka |  Early morning of June 1, 2021, Uganda’s media was flooded with images, short videos and news of the death of Gen. Katumba Wamala’s daughter, his driver and the near miss of the former army commander himself. Still unknown people on motorcycles were responsible for this criminal act.

I will not dig deep in the nitty gritty of who was responsible, reasons for shooting, injuring and killing. After investigations, the world will know the culprits, the reasons and certainly the court verdict. I will focus on the emergency response conduct of Ugandans.

Even in other incidents, Ugandans have demonstrated either lack of knowledge, or self motive when it comes to responding to emergencies like accidents and fire outbreaks. The common practice seen and observed overtime, when an accident happens, the first thing done is “seeing”, taking pictures, videos, making phone calls to colleagues and whoever matters, informing them of tragedy.

In many instances across the country, the would be first responders start by robbing the dead of their valuables. One early morning, myself and wife while travelling to Mbarara, found when an accident had just happened in Lwera- Kampala-Masaka Road. The would-be rescuers were seen removing car batteries, lights, radio and other parts, then jumping on waiting boda bodas.

This is absurd and regretful. First people on site should do the following,

  • If its fire and it has just started, they can try to put it out using the available resources around like extinguishers, water, sand etc.
  • Call police fire brigade or any number of police in your phone. The known police numbers which are toll free include 999 and 112. Both numbers will lead you to someone in control room who will call the nearest police station, ambulance or hospital.
  • If the victims are bleeding, stop breeding or administer any form of first aid. Evacuate the injured to the nearest health facility. Many drivers were seen bypassing the Gen Katumba scene without any concern. It took an initiative of a boda boda rider to whisk Gen to Malcom hospital. This is absurd. Not known is whether its by ignorance or bad attitude. Today it is Gen Katumba who needs, help, tomorrow it maybe you or your kinsman. Emergency response is an issue of life and death.
  • Don’t litter scene of crime. Investigators are very much interested in the sanity of crime scene. From the events that followed after the June 1  shooting and the number of people that accessed the scene, I doubt if crime scene officers-SOCs obtained sufficient exhibits, marks and other important scene of crime valuables. The first people on scene should give first aid, and protect scene of crime.
  • Personal safety and security first. On many occasions, rescuers die of second wave of things especially bomb attacks. When the first bomb goes off, the onlookers rush to scene either to assist, steal or see what has happened. The second bomb kills many of these people. Its important that before one rushes to the scene, he or she ascertains the safety of the area.
  • Memorize the events. Its critical to memorize the events in the absence of recording gadgets. This supports investigating teams with facts. Where possible, take pictures or record videos. Memorize things like time, date, number of people, cars. motorcycles involved, first people on scene, color, size of suspects. Such information aids intelligence teams to track and get hold of suspects.

Let’s make it a habit to assist victims immediately they are in danger. The boda guy and the escort of Gen Katumba are already my heroes of the year 2021.

****

 Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd tindsam@yahoo

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. In developed countries you can be sued for responding to emergencies especially if you are untrained. So it best to call for help and stay in your lane. Also, I remember learning in school that specialization is humankind’s greatest efficiency. Let emergencies be attended to by emergency specialists like it is done in better organized nations. It neither mine nor your job to attend to emergencies. We only do it because the state has failed to do what it ought to do. As for funding, claw back some of the local taxes, such as property tax, to pay for that and other public goods.

    • Saddened Ugandan

      About Good Samaritans and liability:

      “A two-year-old Chinese girl who was run over by two vehicles on the afternoon of 13 October 2011 in a narrow road in Foshan, Guangdong.

      As she lay bleeding on the road for more than seven minutes, at least 18 passers-by skirted around her body, ignoring her.

      She was eventually helped by a female rubbish scavenger and sent to a hospital for treatment, but succumbed to her injuries and died eight days later.

      The closed-circuit television recording of the incident was uploaded onto the Internet, and quickly stirred widespread reaction in China and overseas.

      Many commentators believed this to be indicative of the moral decline in contemporary Chinese society.

      However, other commentators credited the high-profile Peng Yu incident in 2006, wherein a Good Samaritan who helped an injured accident victim was accused of having injured the victim himself and was forced to pay for the victim’s medical bill, as having caused people to fear getting in trouble for helping in Wang’s case.

      Several regional Good Samaritan laws were passed following the incident and in 2017 a new national Good Samaritan law came into force to prevent such situations through the country.”

      Source:
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Wang_Yue

  2. Saddened Ugandan

    Thanks for this.

    First aid saves lives.

    These are some of the things we should be teaching regularly at all our schools.

    If we had standardized levels of first aid required to pass P7, S2, S4, S6, and even university… so many lives would be saved every day.

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