I was sitting in the office at around 10 am. I just came back from the morning briefing when suddenly our Executive Housekeeper came running to me.
‘A child is drowning,’ he said.
He ran, and I followed him to the beach. I saw several of our colleagues. A rescue speedboat was outside our house reef.
The Front Office Manager saw me and said ‘quickly change and bring your fins. You might need to skin dive.’
Without a word, I ran into the staff area. Once colleague already had his fins and mask and was running towards the beach.
I ran up the stairs because my room was on the 2nd floor and while climbing I was unbuttoning my blouse. It was like straight out of a Superman scene where Clark rips off his shirt and changes into a costume with S on the chest. But somehow, I also sensed some Baywatch feels. Kidding aside, I changed my shirt, grabbed my mask and fins, and ran back as fast as I could.
All in those few minutes, I still had the time to think about the situation. I thought that if the boat crews could not spot the child, he must be underneath already. And how long could one survive underwater without oxygen? Less than a minute, probably unless you are a professional freediver. The last thing I’d like to pick up from the bottom of the sea is a lifeless body. Just the thought of that gave me the chills.
When I reached the beach, my colleagues stood beside the crying lady and some other guests who were curious about the commotion.
I only asked, ‘where?’ Because I didn’t know if the child was already rescued. Everybody just stood there and they were waving at the rescue boat to come back. The Front Office Manager was on the phone, but he gave me a hand signal that said it’s all under control.
A tall, pale guy with shoulder-length brunette hair walked towards us with his fins and masks. The crying lady ran towards him and embraced him.
So the child that was supposedly a small boy was a man bigger than me. And he didn’t drown. He was walking towards us, smiling.
The commotion happened because the lady couldn’t find him.
I didn’t know the exact story as to why the lady thought the guy was missing. I was just thankful I didn’t have to hunt for a body.
Later on, I realized that, in times of emergency, I even had the time to change from my uniform to swimming clothes. I could have just taken my fins and mask and jump to the water in uniform because who cares about what I wear when somebody is drowning. I thought that maybe because I was instructed by the Front Office Manager to ‘quickly change’ that’s why in my mind, that was what I should do. I learned well in this situation, and I know (I hope so) what to do if such incidents arise in the future.
A gentle reminder to all. Never swim or snorkel alone, especially in the open sea. You won’t always get rescue teams around. You better have a buddy all the time.