Thoughts on The Impossible

The Impossible is a movie I watched last night.

The movie is based on the plight of a Spain family caught up in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami as it tore through Khao Lak in Thaland.

The Spanish directer, Juan Antonio Bayona, used English actors instead of Spanish presumably to appeal to a wider audience. Naomi Watts did a better job than Ewen McGregor in being convincing, but the young boys playing their children shone brighter.

The makeup artists must also get recognition for the work they did in making it truly appear as though the actors had been plunged into a spin cycle of a garbage littered tidal wave.  They would make any EMST moulage look scary.

The movie coped a bit of misplaced, IMO, criticism about portraying western tourists in an Asian disaster.

The movie brought back thoughts of the small part I played as an intern in helping the victim of the 2002 Sari Club bombings in Bali at Royal Darwin Hospital. It was a lot more controlled and organised than the medical response  portrayed in The Impossible. We didn’t have to deal with shell shocked walking wounded but more importantly  the body bags, shattered infrastructure and anxious family and friends.  Our casualties were mostly evacuated in an orderly manner apart from those early walking wounded who managed to get flights out of Bali in the immediate aftermath of the bombings. I maintain a sense of pride in seeing everyone from consultant to cleaners put in a magnificent effort to deal with the demands placed on the hospital.

bali2       bali3

In 2004 my wife and I visited Sri Lanka.  I had heard it was a very pretty country, a little like India but more compact and indeed it proved to be. It was few years after the tsunami and some part of the countryside affected had yet to be cleaned up and recover. Images that stayed in my mind were the dotting of coastal cemeteries, the wrecked train carriages outside Galle, the signs that suggested you could run to higher ground in the event of another tsunami, fallen tree trunks rotting in coastal hinterland and the massive number of brand new boats laying unused on the beaches.


The other memory of Sri Lanka was seeing how well the local hospital at Polonnaruwa dealt with mass casualties from a bus bombing whilst we were there. After many years of civil war the medical system unfortunately had become used to dealing with 100 or so injured at a time. Top and tail two to a bed!

My final thought thought would be how well could my local hospital on KI deal with a mass casualty event. Probably not a tsunami, nor a bombing but what if there was an explosion at the local petrol station, a ferry sank, a bus ran off the road or a passenger plane crashed on landing? How quickly would the local resources be swamped. After dealing with six people injured in a rollover one night last year, I think that it wouldn’t take too long before our small ED would be overwhelmed.  I’m sure that the small of doctors and nurses would manage well up to a point. I think that the local islanders would be quick to offer assistance. And thankfully we are but a short flight from a major capital city.

In the meantime, I hope I only get to experience it vicariously through the likes of Naomi and Ewen.


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