Along for the ride:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Practical Magic-American Red Cross is the place to go to read several informative, detailed posts about the recent tour bus crash which has killed, injured and left stranded three dozen French visitors to California.
I listen to talk radio, as I am often in my car. The traffic reports, every ten minutes, usually only register if they affect me. Tuesday's report of a tour bus crash 100 miles south of here sounded bad, and I could visualize the barren landscape surrounding the accident site. You know it is serious when they fly in eight med-evac helicopters and close a major freeway for eighteen hours, in both directions.  I felt empathy for whomever was hurting and thankful that our Emergency Services are so good. I didn't know, what I would hear the next day, that these were French Tourists who, on top of everything else had no English to help them through.
One thing I can do is talk. Be it in English or French I have learned, from personal experience, to be a patient advocate. I am not daunted by official paper-work. I am great at logistics, organizing people to help and getting things done outside of "Channels". 
My name is now on a list at the French Consulate as someone who is willing to translate, help or provide accommodation for those in need. My understanding of French bureaucracy is that if someone knows to ask specifically for that list, and the person to ask, then it will be freely given.
So I called the Red Cross as well. 
The local director called me back personally. Amongst fielding calls from hospitals calling her after office hours to say that they were discharging people into the night, with no money, papers or language skills, 100 miles from the rest of their group, and where did she want to put them, she noted some of the ways I might be useful. 
I will follow up with the local Chapter of The American Red Cross today, as I now know that there are victims who were transported to the Trauma Centers at our local hospitals. 
I know a lot of people after twenty-five years in business in California. I know quite a few French speaking Doctors, Lawyers, Travel Agents, not to mention several owners of private planes. 
I just wanted to post about the Red Cross and how great they are. Multi-tasking, logistics-managing, tirelessly helpful and more.
La Framericaine, is doing a great job of documenting. I will post more once we get a better grip on the local needs.
I am shocked it was not covered at all on the French news. Shame on you TV5.


  1. A new day is dawning on the Left Coast of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Thank you for continuing to reach out to the victims of the French tour bus accident in your own inimitable and "can do" style. We'll see what comes out of the woodwork, or the French scrollwork. I know that you know all about isolation in waiting rooms of hospitals under life-threatening circumstances in two languages. That's what makes us birds-of-a-feather!

    I've posted an update and will continue to make inquiries on my end. I'm asking everyone to simply talk about the accident and the need and we'll see what shakes loose.

    Sarko sent his sympathy but I don't know how much money he sent to cover the hotel or what letters of introduction he provided to distraught French(wo)men flying across hell and gone to retrieve a body or a wound loved one. Time will tell.

    We really need someone to start blogging about this in French. Is there anyone out there that can do that? We'll see.

    Bon courage,

  2. Hi Fr'amie, This morning I reached out to a French Travel agent and a banker. Bank of the West, as you know, is Banque Nationale de Paris and very customer friendly, in their U.S. incarnation. They will help people access money from their home accounts etc. without making them jump through hoops. The travel company, International Travel Network is willing to help locate and assist incoming family members and make other travel-connected arrangements. They are also very reasonably priced. We use them a lot. ITN Jean-Francois(415)243 0233 ext. 207

  3. You are an angel!! I saw news about the accident on TV and thought how sad it was for tourists, but I didn't think of all the issues with language, etc. you have brought up.

    Bless, you, bless you for stepping in to help out. What a huge difference it will make for some of those people to have an advocate who understands their language and the problems they are encountering.

    See!! You are not a terrible person after all!