Friday, 20 February 2015

The wrong kind of snow

It snowed overnight here in Beit Jala - so there is now about eight inches of snow on the ground. It was a very weird night weather-wise as, in addition to snow falling, there was thunder and lightning throughout the night, with hailstones falling at various points too. No-one is going anywhere – and that includes patients coming to the hospital. One of the Staff members here told me that no-one goes out in the snow as the roads are too dangerous due to the hills (which would be seriously treacherous if the snow were impacted), narrow roads and the fact that snow is so rare here that they are simply not geared up for it (tell the local transport gurus in the UK that! Here it is just snow, never mind the ‘wrong kind' of snow! J )

With ‘no-one going anywhere’, it means that the heroines and heroes of the hour at the hospital here are the Ancillary and Medical Staff who either slept here overnight or trudged through the snow to get to work. I’ve just trudged through the snow myself (all twenty-five yards of it) to get into the main building of the Hospital and the place is like a ghost town. Normally it is buzzing with patients, their families and friends, as well as members of Staff. Today there is a handful of people around – with the Emergency Staff in particular looking rather cheesed off. I guess today could be the day for catching up on notes and filing all round!

All of the children on the Ward where I have been working went home yesterday – ahead of the snow. A lot of them go home at the weekend anyway, but with the forecast saying snow was due off they all went a day early. The Therapy Team with which I am working are not in evidence today (and I can’t blame them, because I don’t drive anywhere in the snow either if I don’t have too) so I am using the time to read (and write this blog entry!)

What all of this makes me realise though, is just how lucky we are in the UK to have the machines to grit and clear the roads and a transport system that (usually) copes with heavy and inclement weather.

In addition, what many people around the world are lucky to have are Medical and Ancillary Staff working in hospitals and medical centres willing to try to get to their place of work – or even to stay overnight ahead of poor weather coming in, members of the Emergency Services who are willing to put their own lives at risk in order to be able to assist those who are trapped or injured by virtue of accident or life-threatening conditions that need expert medical assistance, Local Authority Highways Teams who go out to grit and clear the roads (usually at incredibly anti-social hours)… not to mention Teachers who make it into Schools to teach, Priests and Ministers who open Churches for people to pray, Volunteers who run and assist with overnight Emergency Shelters, Social Workers who get to the Homes in which there are children who need their care, Care Assistants who travel to either to Care Homes or people's own homes to offer medical and social care, and the members of the Media who get to their offices in order to run the twenty-four hours services on Radio and Television that we have become so used to. I should also mention Supermarket and Shop Staff who we 'expect' to be there, Bank Workers, Office Workers.. and the list goes on. Many people do not have a choice and, even if they do have a small 'get out clause' of the wrong kind of {snow}, [leaves on the line], [ice] (take your pick), someone, somewhere will complain that there was no-one there to answer the phone, sell them milk, give them money.... etc. etc.

When it has snowed heavily in the UK, people have say to me, ‘Just cancel the Service, no one will mind.’ To which my reply is always, “The Service is advertised, someone may come and it is important that the Service takes place – even if no-one comes.” Do you know, someone has always come to every Service that has taken place when there has been snow outside!

And so, with lightning and thunder rolling around outside, and hailstones beating my window, I sign off… praying for rain and sunshine so that the lives of the people here in the Hospital, the local town of Beit Jala, the City of Bethlehem – as well as other surrounding areas – might be made slightly easier as the day goes on.

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