Nice shot of his leg injury in the original article here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/38265/the-red-shirt-guard-who-saved-my-life
The red shirt guard 'who saved my life'
The recent red shirt protest was a bleak and dramatic time for foreign reporters, with the death of two correspondents and numerous others injured. But one Bangkok-based Canadian journalist owes his life to an heroic rescue by a red shirt guard
* Published: 6/06/2010 at 12:00 AM
* Newspaper section: News
Nelson Rand is unsure how long he was clinically dead. One doctor said two minutes, another said three and a third said six. After days on morphine recovering in intensive care wards in two Bangkok hospitals, Rand is not 100% certain about the exact details of his remarkable recovery.
GUARDIAN ANGEL: Nelson Rand with his saviour, Oan Thirawat. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NELSON RAND
However, it seems unquestionable that this thoughtful and energetic Canadian - a correspondent for France24 news channel - has had a most remarkable near-death experience.
Recuperating in a room in the Bangkok Nursing Home (BNH) in Convent Road, Rand has had plenty of time to ponder the dramatic moments when he became a big story internationally and survived by the narrowest of margins. It is hard to think of a closer brush with death.
Bed-ridden with four serious wounds - three from bullets - he came to realise fairly quickly that his extraordinary survival was due not only to a team of dedicated doctors at Chulalongkorn Hospital, but also to a red shirt guard who put his own life at considerable risk to pull him out of harm's way and rush him to hospital.
It was three weeks ago: Friday, May 14, about 2pm the day after rogue general Seh Daeng was shot in the head by a sniper.
Rand, who has lived and worked in Bangkok for the best part of a decade, was down alongside Lumpini Park, near the thick of the action, reporting on a street battle in bright sunlight in the heart of the city.
''I was filming with the army and I tried to get across to the other side and I got shot when I tried to get across. I took a risk and I paid for it. I knew what I was doing,'' he recalled in a slightly hoarse voice from his hospital bed.
Rand, 34, wore a black shirt and sunglasses, but he is not sure if that was a factor in his being shot. The first bullet hit him in the left hand.
LIFE-THREATENING: Rand almost died from a leg wound which severed his artery.
''I was on the ground trying to get to cover, then I was shot in the leg and abdomen.
''I'll never forget _ I could see my vein, the inside of my hand _ and I was thinking 'this is not good'.''
He had screamed in pain and dropped his camera, which kept recording.
The bullet that struck him in the leg was the one that nearly killed him, as it cut his femoral artery and caused him to lose a lot of blood, while a third bullet passed through his left side.
Rand's buddy John Sanlin captured the drama on film _ footage that was shown around the world on CNN within hours.
His plight had also been noted by a red shirt guard who had experience working for an emergency rescue team, similar to Poh Teck Tung.
''I was screaming for help and he slowly crawled across the street under fire to get me. There's some clips of it on some Thai [web] sites that show it. He clearly went to the line of fire to come and get me.
''I don't remember seeing him coming to get me, but I remember he grabbed my arm and dragged me away. Somehow there was a motorbike and I was put in the middle, between him and a guy on the back holding me.''
They roared off on the red guard's bike while still under fire, across to Chulalongkorn Hospital. The bike has two bullet holes at the front from that ride.
''That's when I got my foot injury _ it was dragging along the road and I just had a sock on. It's all black now 'cos the skin's dead. It ground down to the bone.''
The stranger who had saved his life stayed at the hospital until he was through several hours of surgery and had survived.
Rand has a vague dream-like recollection of ''a stage of something I've never felt _ maybe between life and death, something that I can't explain''. He said he'd heard different versions from doctors about his heart stopping, until he was given a packet of blood and shock treatment to restart his heart.
''I believe from what people told me my blood had about run out - they gave me a lot of bags [of blood] and revived me after one bag. I think I had a few minutes when I was clinically dead, or - I don't know what it's called - but they had to revive me.'' Shortly after, he was transferred away from the ''red zone'' to BNH. In an interview after his accident with Canadian colleague Steve Sandford, Rand said he wanted to locate the red shirt guard who saved his life - and thank him.
''He put his own life at risk and he didn't even know me. That's what I call true heroism _ a true selfless act, which I think only a few people are capable of. I'd like to ask if there's one thing he wants, because I'd like to get it. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here.''
Sandford's wife Am, a ''fixer'' for foreign news crews, contacted Thai PBS, which had people who were able to track down the red shirt guard. Days later, he was brought to Rand's hospital room for a heartfelt message of thanks _ watched by Nelson's parents, who had flown over from Calgary, and filmed by Sandford.
Oan Thirawat, 25, said soldiers were still shooting when he ran across the road to grab Rand and sprint to get away.
''I was always thinking I had to help him because it's my job. When people are hurt around the protest site I have to help them. I have to help them in the danger zone. I have to get them out first, no matter what.
''I was afraid that I couldn't save him in time. I rushed to get him to the hospital. We had an accident on the way. I could not stop in time and the red shirts didn't clear the way for me. I already contacted them to clear the way, but they didn't. We had five motorbikes with victims. The first one led us to the hospital.
''Before I came back, I stayed for about three hours at the hospital with Nelson to make sure he was okay, until the doctors finished the surgery. I felt very happy that I saved one life. Life is very valuable.
''For the red shirts, we help all people. Even the wounded soldiers we will help. We try to save anyone's life, even the foreigners or police. We help them all. From my experience, I help people who are in traffic accidents or rescue people in fires.''
On his Facebook page, Rand, still in a wheelchair, posted a shot of Oan with him on his first night out of hospital early last week.
Rand's book Conflict, published by Maverick House last year, details adventures in the life of a reporter visiting flashpoints in Cambodia, Burma's Karen State, Laos and southern Thailand. But his best chapter is surely yet to be penned.