Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Orville Taylor | Requiescat in pace, Dominic

Published:Sunday | September 25, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Coach of the St George's College football team, Neville Bell, reacts after finding out that Dominic James had died.
Referees stand dumbfounded moments after Dominic James collapsed on the field.
St George's College students grieving the loss of their schoolmate, Dominic James.
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His name means 'gift from God', and there must be a reason that God, in all Their glory and wisdom, decided to take him back at age 18, just after becoming a man. Dominic James, an extremely skilled footballer, only son, captain of the St George's College Manning Cup football team, an implant from Jamaica College, died on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, after collapsing on the field in his third match of the season.

Doubtless, the first message and feeling must be deep sympathy and empathy to his parents and other relatives, and, of course, his teammates, who were obviously traumatised as he fell and convulsed. Young James had barely set foot on the pitch at Stadium East and perhaps had one or two touches of the ball. It was two minutes after the referee blew the opening whistle and the ball had been played twice. A vigilant assistant referee noticed and the game was stopped. On ran the coach, the paternal Neville 'Bertis' Bell, and, as expected, the doctors from both benches and another from the stands. All gathered around, and as the unconscious youth was lifted some minutes afterwards and taken to his father's car, the entire stadium and people listening and following on live media were praying and hoping for his safe recovery.

The worst possible news came later, and the disbelief was replaced by untrammelled grief. 'He's gone!' I can only imagine the incredulity and deep shock of his father, who shuttled him in his car to hospital. He saw his only son die in real time. The Scriptures say that we were built in the image of God, but one important difference was that the Almighty's only begotten Son was never truly gone and God was simply fulfilling their own plans to reawaken Him three days later.

Never mind the biblical lesson such as Job 1:20-21, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord!" But in the elder James' position, no one could quote any passage from Qur'an, Torah or Bible to console me on losing my only seed. Nothing can take away that pain. Nothing!

Then we do the 'if a neva' or 'if it would or dida'. And with perfect 20/20 hindsight, everybody and his cousin and people who got their medical degrees from St Elsewhere, Trapper John, Scrubs and Grey's Anatomy theorise about the negligence of the organisers. And where was the stretcher? And how come there was not ambulance? And as if to throw not only egg, but also amniotic fluid in the face of the doctors who were working assiduously to save his life, they bemoaned the absence of trained emergency medical technicians (EMT). Now, this last assertion is so dumb, I'm sure the authors are the same ones who planned Reverend Miller's quest to take Prezi to the United States Embassy. After all, since EMTs are so well-skilled and are the doyennes of life-saving and are better trained in first-aid response than medical doctors, I will save the tuition money for my child, send her to the six-month EMT training, and use the rest of the cash to buy a lotto ticket, since I love to gamble so much.

 

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

 

EMTs are trained to reduce the likelihood of a victim dying by administering assistance, 'until the injured person is able to be seen by a medical doctor!' That is the first lesson one learns in first aid. Doctors take a Hippocratic oath (hehehe, don't ask me what lawyers take) to do all that is humanly possible to save lives. I am totally convinced that the doctors did all that they could.

Now, some suggest that the lad had to be lifted without a stretcher or gurney. That's true, but is there some assertion that the absence of a stretcher made his being safely lifted impossible? Is it the contention that the missing stretcher caused him to die? Was the absent ambulance a factor that impeded his reaching hospital safely? I'd bet my bottom dollar that his father would have driven like the wind to reach hospital with his precious cargo.

Yet, there is a reasonable argument about life-saving equipment such as a first-aid kit containing adrenaline, tanked oxygen, masks and defibrillator. Yep, that same thing that you rub together like a young mischievous boy's palms, and press on the chest to restore rhythm to the heart. And notice! The device is to restore the heart to a normal or reasonably normal beat, not to restart a heart that has stopped. And we don't know if it was his heart stopping that made him collapse.

 

HEART PROBLEMS

 

One should also know that there are times when the heart has gone into some arrest or malfunction because it has a weak area or aneurysm in one of its vessels. In such cases, any sudden pressure on it could lead to a rupture. Only doctors can make such calls.

Nevertheless, if young Dominic died before working up a sweat, isn't it likely that his death was not caused by overexertion during the game at all? Was there an underlying condition, yet undiscovered, that simply erupted? And isn't there really space for a larger discussion regarding the health and safety of schoolchildren?

Had he collapsed at school, what would have been the expected response and preparation? It might seem like I'm playing the devil's advocate, but despite the reverend gentlemen's rebuke, I have no personal relationship with Lucifer. However, what is true is that in schools where more than 1,000 boys and girls routinely run up and down, play 'salad', 'stucky' and participate in organised interclass matches, where should the ambulance and stretchers be?

You see, for all our efforts, life is fragile and impermanent, and we all know this. No one truly knows why God reclaimed their gift so soon, but They know best. In time, with faith, it will be revealed. I thank God for the short-lived but well-appreciated gift.

- Dr Orville Taylor, senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host, is the author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.