Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
[TNP 29May2010]: 'I felt blood flowing from my face'
NS man was shot by a farmer during jungle training in Thailand. He now has pellets embedded in his face and shoulder. -TNP
Sat, May 29, 2010- The New Paper
[Right: Pte Pritheevy was hurt on March 19 near Bangkok.]
By Arul John
SHOTGUN pellets were embedded in his face.
But full-time national serviceman (NSF) Pritheevy Raj, 19, did not even realise he had been shot at.
He thought someone had thrown a coconut at his face.
At about 11pm Thai time (midnight Singapore time) on March 12, Private Pritheevy and First Sergeant Woo Teng Hai were accidentally shot by Thai villagers out hunting.
First Sgt Woo is an SAF regular from the 1st Commando Battalion.
The men were in a plantation in the Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok.
The night mission was part of the battalion's annual proficiency test, which is conducted by the Army Training Evaluation Centre (Atec), the unit where Pte Pritheevy is serving as a trooper.
Pte Pritheevy said that he, another sergeant from Atec, and 1st Sgt Woo had been lying prone in the plantation that night when the incident occurred.
He said: "I felt a blast in my face. At first, I thought someone had thrown a big coconut at me.
"Then I saw 1st Sgt Woo,who was beside me, bleeding badly from his face. I felt blood flowing from my face but no pain. The other sergeant from my unit was not injured."
His training kicked in. Pte Pritheevy took out his field dressing from his uniform and placed it on 1st Sgt Woo's face to stop the bleeding.
"He asked me if I knew what had happened to us. He said we had been shot and that was when I knew," he said.
Pte Pritheevy said the uninjured sergeant went to get help. Military officers and medics soon arrived on the scene. He and 1st Sgt Woo were treated and rushed to a Thai hospital.
Although Pte Pritheevy had surgery, he still has two pellets lodged in him.
Pte Pritheevy, who is particularly close to his mother, said: "While on the way to hospital, I kept saying that I want to meet my mother. I worry more about my mother than I worry about myself."
He had called his mother, Madam Isaac Kanaeswary, at least once a day from the time he was sent to Thailand for army training, on March 3.
On 3.40am on March 13, Madam Isaac got a different call. An SAF officer told her that Pte Pritheevy had been shot. Those words caused the 43-year-old, who works in sales, to panic.
She told The New Paper: "The officer told me that Pritheevy had been shot by some Thai villagers. I nearly fainted when I heard the news.
"But the officer assured me that my son was all right and let me talk to him. When I heard Pritheevy, he said he was calling from the hospital in Thailand.
"I was surprised he was able to talk to me as he had been shot. But he assured me he was all right."
Madam Isaac, who has another son, a 16-year-old student, regained her composure. Despite Pte Pritheevy's assurances, she remained concerned.
She said: "I was worried and crying. At about 9am that day, an SAF officer told me my son would return home to Singapore General Hospital for treatment that evening.
"The officer said I could wait for my son at the airport, but I was afraid I would be too emotional when meeting him there. So I said I would meet him at SGH instead."
At the hospital, Pte Pritheevy surprised his mother, who was already waiting there, by jumping out of the ambulance as soon as it stopped.
Pte Pritheevy said: "At first, I had a plaster under my right eye and on my right shoulder. But I removed the plaster from my eye at the airport in Thailand.
"When I saw my mother, I hugged her, then picked up my backpack and we walked into the hospital together."
Pte Pritheevy was given immediate treatment and scans were done.
Said Madam Isaac: "I was very happy about the SAF's care of my son. While he was in the hospital, SAF officers visited him often and took turns to keep watch over him.
"They also gave me a lot of moral support and gifts like chocolates and hampers."
She said Pte Pritheevy still has to take medication and go for medical reviews at SGH every three months.
Pte Pritheevy said: "While in hospital, I could not wait to return home. Because of my injuries, I cannot play football and I miss that.
"Now, I mainly spend my time on my computer and talk to friends on the phone. Friends who visit me now jokingly call me Bullet Pritheevy."
Pte Pritheevy, who was on medical leave for two months, will report for duty at Atec on Monday.
Madam Isaac said: "When I look back, I think that his injury and recovery is quite a miracle."
Pellets still in his cheek, shoulder
PRIVATE Pritheevy still has two shotgun pellets lodged in him.
Madam Isaac explained: "I was told that the doctors decided not to operate on Pritheevy's cheekbone because trying to remove the pellet lodged there may cause some paralysis.
"On March 15, the doctors did a four-hour-long operation on his right shoulder, but could not remove the other pellet for fear of injuring the joints."
Madam Isaac said she sought second and third opinions with doctors in private practice and was reassured after they told her the SGH doctors "were on the right track".
The SGH doctors treating Pte Pritheevy declined to comment.
The New Paper contacted surgeon Teoh Tiong Ann, who is in private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, to understand if there are risks involved in not removing the pellets.
Dr Teoh said the risk of the pellets migrating within wounds like those of Pte Pritheevy was "not very high".
He said: "It may be best to leave them alone, especially if the pellets are embedded in muscle or soft tissue. Also, if one tries to remove them, one may have to cut through normal tissue to remove them."
Doing this may damage either the muscle or soft tissue surrounding the pellet.
Dr Teoh said the risk of infection from such wounds was low as most shotgun wounds were under high heat which killed germs around the wound.
He added: "It is not likely that the pellet lodged in the cheekbone will affect the victim's eyesight. If there was any effect, it would have happened by now."
He and Pte Pritheevy were reportedly taking part in a "routine training exercise" in a "designated training area" in Kanchanaburi province in Thailand.
It is believed that 1st Sgt Woo was not wearing a Kevlar helmet at the time of the incident.
Pte Pritheevy said he and the sergeant from his unit wore helmets.
First Sgt Woo was discharged from SGH at the end of March.
He told The Straits Times he would be returning to camp soon and added he had problems seeing with his right eye.
Pte Pritheevy, whose NSF stint ends in June next year, was discharged from SGH on March 24 and was on two months' medical leave.
This article was first published in The New Paper.
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