A lot of things can happen in fifteen minutes. You could make a phone call. You could skim through a magazine. You could catch a metro ride. You could get a haircut. You could eat your meal. You could catch up with a friend or loved one. But a life can be taken anytime and anywhere, even in just fifteen minutes. It could happen to you, your family, friend, roommate, teammate, or anyone else. The fact is you can really never know what just might happen in the next fifteen minutes.
In this case, a life was lost on campus, on Monday, August 23rd, because Cheang Kok did not receive medical attention when he needed it the most. Kok worked at the Cafeteria (since 2001), where you might have seen him frequently refilling the fountain drink machines’ ice containers. He was a friendly and diligent worker, and he was often seen riding his bicycle from home to work, and then back home.
On the 23rd, around lunchtime, he fell off the bicycle that he was riding to work on just outside the cafeteria and hit the ground headfirst. The Gallaudet football team was eating lunch in the cafeteria when it happened and they were able to rush outside to try to help him but found him unresponsive and unconscious, making the players helpless out of fear for aggravating his injury some more.
Someone alerted the DPS and, after nearly ten minutes had passed, no one responded to the scene, prompting a football player to run down to the DPS office in Carlin Hall to get help. He was told by a DPS officer to wait because he was dealing with some other students inside the office, regardless of the gravity of the situation that was taking place at Hanson Plaza.
The no-show by DPS forced Gallaudet Head Football Coach Chuck Goldstein to flip Kok over, and he noticed he had blue lips which signaled that he was not breathing at all. Goldstein proceeded to perform CPR on him, before the first DPS officer arrived on the scene and took over the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation effort. Approximately 15 minutes had passed since Kok fell from his bike.
Approximately five minutes after the arrival of the DPS officer, the EMTs (emergency medical technicians) arrived on scene and took over the efforts of resuscitating Kok. Everybody was watching the scene intently, hoping Kok would be successfully revived. Kok was taken off the scene to a nearby hospital and no one knew for a while as to whether if he did survive the accident or not. It was several hours before the community was informed about Kok’s final fate.
So the biggest concern here is the length of time it took DPS to respond to the scene. What if they had showed up right away? Would they have been able to rescue Kok and avoid this tragedy?
Shocked sophomore Ryan Bonheyo shared his thoughts on the incident. “The death was very unfortunate for the university. I happened to witness the incident. It wasn’t easy watching someone battling for his own life. It was much harder to take in knowing that the DPS office was only a minute away; they decided to take their time responding to the emergency. I think it was an unprofessional act by DPS. I hope they will learn how to respond to the incidents much quicker in the future.”
A life has been taken already because the opportunity to save him was not taken by DPS. The Gallaudet community does not want to see something like this to happen again, and so we must take action now to ensure that something like this tragedy can and will be prevented in the future.
Remember, next time it could be anyone. Even you.
Correction: Due to miscommunication between the writer and the editor, it was originally published that Goldstein performed CPR for approximately 15 minutes, but it has now been edited to state that the DPS officer arrived approximately 15 minutes after Kok fell from his bike. We regret the error.
Photo credit: Leila Hanaumi