Jim Long Pork Commentary,Roadtrip in China Ends in Crash, May 22nd 2012
By Jim Long, President and CEO Genesus Genetics
We arrived in China on the Saturday. We had several meetings with customers and prospects. Last Wednesday we were riding in a GM minivan just outside Beijing heading to inspect quarantine site for an importation of Genesus genetics – we had just passed The Great Wall.
Then as you would say ‘an accident happened’. Heading through an intersection in a rural area our van met a tractor – trailer. It wasn’t pretty. The van was hit on the front, the engine and front of the van was sheared off. I was in the front passenger seat. The seatbelt and airbag worked. I climbed out of the carnage. At this point I saw my partner and Vice President of Genesus, Mike Van Schepdael lying on the road. At impact he had flown out of the side window of the van as the vehicle spun (obviously no seatbelt on). Mike was lying on the asphalt highway unconscious with blood all over. All other passengers including the driver were relatively okay. The tractor trailer was 200 feet down the road – the tractor was on its side separated from the trailer also on its side. Mike regained consciousness; you could see his injuries were obviously to his head. The ambulance arrived with 2 – 90 pound female attendances were no match to pick up a 200 pound Van Schepdael. I was in no shape to help, eventually some by standers helped out. English doesn’t help much when in China but hand signals definitely do.
Mike had a quick ride to a local hospital. It didn’t take much to figure out this hospital was not geared to handle such a serious situation. After a mad flurry of phone calls we were off to Beijing about one and a half hours away. As we got into the ambulance, I got into the front passenger seat. I had to laugh when they made a big deal that I should wear a seatbelt. If ever I didn’t need to know that it was at this moment. We then rode with a lunatic ambulance driver who at particular times was smoking, and talking on his cell phone as he madly drove through busy traffic. He really enjoyed the siren horn but not at any particular strategic time. He then got kind of lost trying to locate the hospital (that is always reassuring). Eventually we arrived at the hospital thinking after that ambulance ride I had dodged death twice in the same day.
Peking Union Medical College Hospital International wing was where we ended up. Quickly the hospital staff reacted – Mike was checked – a CT scan and MRI were quickly carried out. The doctors and nurses spoke English. Their observation was multiple injuries but no surgery needed for Mike. He was lucky (subjective word) 2 cracked vertebrate, multiple lacerations, broken nose, split lip, fractured cheekbone, etc, etc… lots of things adding up but nothing life threatening.
It was at this time our customers in China stepped in to help out. Monita Ma owner of Best Genetics, America raised but with business interests in China including Swine Production stepped in. Her connections quickly found 2 nurses at a time that speak English for 24 hour round the clock care. Monita’s people waded in with cash and put down a deposit to cover all hospital costs. Genesus’ International Insurance will cover all in the end but the initial financial push diminished any potential for delays happening. Soon after our arrival at the hospital Dr. Shen, the Deputy General Manager of COFCO– swine division (China’s largest agri – business) and owner of 2 Genesus Nucleuses in China arrived at the hospital offering to help in any way possible. Others arrived quickly – Hu – Song and Rosemary Smart from the Canadian Swine Exporters Association. Rapid response was greatly appreciated. Mike was hurt badly and I wasn’t feeling real well as the body isn’t built to take the force of tons meeting at speed.
It is now five days from the accident and I have been discharged, in pain but high level of functioning. Mike is still in the hospital working towards a full and complete recovery. All indications show no other conclusion. In this time we have had visits from James Jiang General Manager of COFCO meat division and Chairman Wu of Tiabang Group both offering any and all we needed. This past five days has been fascinating; we have experienced the hospitality and kindness of many Genesus Chinese associates. The hospital care has been extraordinary. Caring and knowledgeable doctors and nurses have what we believe as world class care. Indeed at one point our International Insurance Company was pushing us to fly by Air Ambulance Jet to Hong Kong. We weighed the options and decided to stay at Peking Union. We made the right decision and are getting better every day.
Our experience has reaffirmed our belief that he world and all countries have excellent quality people with character. When we needed help and care we got it. We will be forever grateful to the great people in China that helped us.
On a personal note it reminds us how life can be fleeting, a couple of feet was the difference in this crash between life and death. God was with us and we were lucky. It makes you realize that it’s best to live everyday flat out because you really, really never know when it could be over.
Final Point: Wear a seatbelt.
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