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June 6, 2016

How I inspired my student how to save other’s life over a decade ago

June 6, 2016 | By |

Yesterday was a surreal day in many ways but one thing stood out and made me think about all my years here in Thailand! Why had I stayed here for 16 years!?

As a teacher you always have a little dream tucked away in the back of your head that one day you will make an impact on someone else’s life. I sometimes see my grade one and two students applying something I have taught them in a real life situation and it makes me beam with pride and happiness like a parent must feel when their child takes their first steps or says their first words.

As a medic I have also experienced these feelings when I see fellow rescue workers applying the same techniques or protocols as myself.

The value of keeping my big mouth shut

When I first came to Thailand and joined the rescue service 16 years ago I came with the wrong type of thinking, I came with the idea I would actively go out and tell rescue workers what they were doing wrong and teach them the right way….

Im surprised I lasted as long as I did 🙂 lol

It soon became apparent to me, they thought I was a dick, and so for some time after that I just started doing things my own way, ignoring what others may have been doing wrong and basically keeping my mouth shut.

I had almost given up on trying to teach when one day I began to notice changes in the habits and attitude of the workers around me, and I realized they were actually emulating some of the things I was doing.

It was then that I realized the significance of cultural teaching methodology that I had long forgotten since my days of studying linguistics at university.

Thailand’s attitude adjustment created new chances for me

In the unusual environment of Thai EMS system, there is a lot of active learning as most volunteers start off with only a 2 day training course before embarking on hands on trauma care in real life situations, normally peered with more experienced workers this passive-active environment builds some good EMS workers but sometimes at the expense of patient outcome.

Nevertheless, this is the hand the government has dealt us and so it is one we have to work with.

After some time since my “attitude adjustment” I was even more surprised to have rescue workers actually come to me and ask me questions about how to do things, about equipment, and even about English in the EMS environment.

I had become more of a trusted mentor than teacher and that worked well for me and everyone around me.


Over the years I was finally entrusted officially as a teacher at the Ruamkatanyu Foundation’s yearly training sessions which finally solidified my status as a teacher but I think the groundwork I unknowingly did over those long years was the real reason.

Nowadays I am still asked to teach here and there but now I enjoy more just doing my thing in the field and hoping the passive learning method continues to work.

Meeting old friends

And so back to yesterday. I had just delivered a patient to ER and was waiting outside to collect the paperwork when I met another Ruamkatanyu volunteer who had also just delivered a patient.

Recently I had started working in a new area and so did not recognize him but being fellow rescue workers we smiled and nodded. I could see him hesitate as he forced himself shyly to approach me and he called me “Ajarn” (teacher), “I studied at Tepleela high school”.

I thought it was a little strange for a first thing to say to someone but then I remembered that for a short period of my first years in Thailand I was a contract teacher there and so I said “Oh, I used to teach there too! About 14 years ago”, he smiled holding back his laughter and said “I know, I was your student”.

Then the penny dropped, in my defense I had just worked a 12 hour shift!

And so it all came together in a head rush, he began to tell me that he had been impressed as a 14 year old student that a foreigner had come to Thailand and wanted to help people and had followed my life over the years, from TV and other social media, this had prompted him to join Ruamkatanyu as a rescue worker and help people too.

I was overwhelmed with pride, happiness and a sense of worth! But what surprised me most was the fact not even his fellow workers knew his story, he had just quietly embarked on his own odyssey quietly and humbly.

Of all my own perceived achievements this one has stood out among them all, enough to sit down and write about it.

I think he has no idea how he has made me feel but to say contented with my life here in Thailand would be the top of a very long list because of this simple chance meeting 🙂