emergency services

Grateful for small mercies

The view over to Dragonera

The view over to Dragonera

About a month ago my daughter, La Gidg and I went walking from Sant Elm up to the top of Sa Trapa and back down again. My husband was in Pollensa photographing a cycling team so we were one man down in Team Neilson McLeod, but that didn’t matter as we were out with a bunch of friends. There were about twenty of us when we set off from Es Moli on that sunny Sunday morning, plenty of grownups, kids and dogs. If you’ve ever done the walk you will know that there are some steep and demanding parts of it, but that it’s worth the “up” as the view at the top is quite amazing. You can see over to the island of Dragonera and back over the hilltops to Port Andratx and to s’Arracó.

We stopped at the peak and had a snack. Everything was very jolly and we were feeling quite pleased with ourselves that we had got out of the house and conquered that climb up. Then as we were making our descent towards the Sa Trapa buildings La Gidg slipped over. It was quite a heavy fall, and there were tears. I could see that there was some blood coming through her leggings but because they weren’t torn I assumed that it was a graze. She didn’t want me to look at it (she is quite strong headed, a bit like her parents) so I decided that the best thing was to get back down to the car as soon as possible and then get ourselves to a doctor if we decided we needed one. There then followed two excruciating hours of slow hobbling down. In hindsight I should have insisted that I looked at her injury, and if I had seen it, I would have been on the phone to the emergency mountain rescue.

When we made it back to the car we went straight to the local PAC in Andratx. When I finally saw what had happened to my little girl’s leg and appreciated the level of bravery that she had shown getting down from the very top of Sa Trapa back to Sant Elm, I have to say I was completely speechless. Her leg, despite no damage to her clothes, was cut from one side of her knee to the other, about 10 centimetres and about 4 centimetres wide. It was as if special effects makeup artist had been practicing on her.  “Go to Hospital Son Espases” was pretty much the decision, and once she had had a quick clean-up and a sterile bandage applied we went in to Palma where we were seen very quickly. We were spoken to in English by our doctor when it became clear to him that I was in too much of a state to really concentrate in Spanish and then La Gidg, with the help of two doctors, three nurses and a bottle of gas to relax her, had fifteen stitches put into her leg, and goodness knows how many more inside.

I know I moan about the cost of social security in Spain, and the unfairness of the system for autonomos and small businesses but I cannot fault the hospital system. It was very good, efficient, well equipped and there when we needed it. The after care has been great as well. Gidg just had her stitches out last week, and we are still some way from Hip Hop and Cross Fit classes, but her leg is still attached to the rest of her which makes us all grateful for small mercies.

You can see an article about survival in the Mallorcan countryside here: http://mallorcastories.com/2015/01/26/mountain-survival-mallorca/

Keep the home fires burning

My heroes

My heroes

It’s quite the coldest, darkest, trickiest part of the year now isn’t it? Everyone wants to hunker down and hide indoors. We got a load of new wood in last weekend with some serious hunkering down in mind. My husband gets quite Neanderthal (“Man Make fire”), he does like to stoke up the wood burner as if it is the Flying Scotsman.  So we were pretty toasty and comfy on Saturday evening, right up to the moment when I realised that the roof of our house was on fire.

Downstairs we didn’t realise that there was a problem. But upstairs there was a weird smell.  It turned out that this was the smell of the ceiling burning. At first I just thought that the new wood had a peculiar smell. The chimney goes through the room where our office is, that’s the room with the PCs and the cameras, in fact all the things which we use for our jobs. When I discovered that the roof of our office was aflame I didn’t exactly panic. It was confusing. How could it be possible that the ceiling be burning? My husband and I swung into action with buckets of water. It was at this point that I realised that I hadn’t ever rung the Emergency number before: I had to Google “Spain Emergency Number” (it’s 112 by the way). I got as far as “I have a fire in my house” in Spanish before I started freaking out and losing the ability to understand or speak any language except gibberish. Meanwhile my husband switched to “Man Put Out Fire” and got on with it.

The Bomberos joined us from Santa Ponca, and we were also visited by our Local Police and then the Guardia. Together we figured out what the cause of the fire was: the sap from the newly cut wood was condensing at the top of the chimney and ignited residual soot.

The police and the firemen impressed me with their attitudes: they were calm, friendly, and thorough.  As you do, I ended up chatting with one of them and discovered that he really liked cats. Absurdly we talked about our cats that were all lined up on the stairs in a “What’s going on?” formation, whilst his colleagues went up on the cherry picker ladder to check the fire was out completely. It was nothing like the horrendous destructive fire that ravaged through our valley last year, but these were some of the guys who had been fighting it. I’ve got to say that I thought they were fantastic.

So: the fire was put out, and no one was hurt, but it certainly spooked us. What if I hadn’t smelt the strange odour? What if we’d nodded off downstairs, what if, what if? The next night we sat in living room in our jumpers, coats, hats, scarves and gloves, the cats were pretty miffed there wasn’t a fire to arrange themselves in front of. They’ve submitted their complaint in triplicate. http://www.familymattersmallorca.com