Calling an ambulance in Capetown

Friday 28 November 2014

I saw Doug Joseph in Edinburgh in 1952. He was one of a group of friends from Sydney University days. We had been in the same year at Sydney Grammar but he and the rest of us really got to know each other over a cadaver in the dissecting room in first year at the Old Medical School in 1942.

Doug was doing anaesthetics and had gone as a surgeon on a cargo ship to England, via the Cape, in 1951.

The ship stopped at Capetown to exchange cargo. An accident occurred and a crane load dropped onto and crushed a black wharf labourer. Doug did what he could and called an ambulance.

The ambulance arrived, the officers walked past the badly injured man and asked Doug where the patient was. Doug pointed to him. The men looked at Doug, abused him for a false alarm, walked back to their car with an over the shoulder "call a kaffir ambulance" and drove off.

Doug assumed the man died.

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