Monday, August 9, 2010

When you call 911, PLEASE know what your address is…. Really.

In my last post I sort of promised to post this one next, even though I had not yet written it. Here I am a week or so later, and in a world far removed from ‘normal life’ and I really don’t feel like writing this one just now. But a promise is a promise.
The Dispatch:
“Respond to 60 Elm St. for a elderly person down, unable to ambulate. The call came in from Life Alarm from the next door neighbor who is seeking help for the patient.”
The Response:
Routine weekend response, a pick up crew on the ambulance, I pull into the station and see they have a full crew so I run on to the call location in my personal vehicle. We arrive at the address to ask which neighbor needs help. The resident assures us she did not make the call and does not even know what a ‘Life Alarm’ is, let alone has one. We check the neighbor’s houses. No soap. We have a 3 person crew on our BLS rig, the two on the ALS crew that backs us up, a State Trooper that showed up to assist, and about 4 firefighters who came in case we needed lifting assistance. I’m counting about 11 responders, and I start breaking the neighborhood up into sections sending them out in pairs. I call dispatch and inform them of the difficulties we are having locating the address. I ask them if they can call back to the company and get us more info that will help us locate the patient. I team up with the Trooper, but he has his own plan and goes to check number 60 ElmWOOD St. about ½ mile away while I handle things here. I check a few houses looking for the signs. Ladders, yard tools laying about, things like that. I check the house next to the original address we went to and find some contractors working on the roof. I ask about the homeowner. “Oh yeah” one of the carpenters says, “He was here just a minute ago, but I don’t know where he went, he should be around.” We search to no success. I check the next house down: 3 cars in the driveway, front door open, I knock, ring the bell, and yell in “FIRE DEPARTMENT, did you call for an ambulance?” No reply. I repeat the exercise. Nada. I walk around the outside of the house. Zip. The Trooper returns reporting ‘no joy’. I tell him about this house and he repeats my exercise, he walks up to the door and tells “STATE POLICE, ANYBODY HOME?” We make entry, he does half the house and I do the other. He keeps shouting “STATE POLICE” and I am shouting “FIRE DEPARTMENT” and we sound like big kids playing “MARCO” – “POLO” as we walk around the house (perhaps you had to be there). We meet in the back den area and have a good idea of the family makeup: Weekenders, 3 teenagers, and 1 maybe 2 parents. Probably out shopping. We hit every house and no teams report anything remarkable. The teams meet back at the start point. Most think it’s time to give it up as an unfounded call. I don’t feel good about this and say so. I know the Trooper is considering it, but isn’t satisfied just yet. Then we get a call from dispatch giving us the exact address of the caller, “ number 5 Elm Street”, which is at the far end of the block. The whole entourage moves all the vehicles down to the end of the road and we start the search again, looking behind all the houses, in the woods, etc. While the Trooper and I knock on the door. No answer and it is locked. The Trooper finds a side window that is unlocked and he gets it open with no damage. He ‘carefully selects’ one of my young Firefighters and pushes him in through the window with search instructions. No soap, the house is secure and clear.
Just then, I hear one of my crew saying “ Hey! Look up the road, there is an old lady coming down the hill with a walker”. Sure enough, here she comes, down the adjacent street and I am thinking this is our ‘victim’. Yet again, I am wrong, and the lady indicates through her huffing and puffing that she called for her friend up at “number 60” as she points back up the hill from where she came. We relocate all the vehicles one last time and head to number 60 BIRCH Lane.
Sure enough, there she is on her living room floor as we enter the house. She looks up at us and asks “What the heck took you guys so long?” “Well Ma’am, we were looking for you at or around number 60 Elm St.” She says “yes, that’s the address we gave them, WHAT took so long?!” “Ma’am, you live at Number 60 Birch Lane.” “Oh yeah”, she says, “I guess I do, no wonder you took so long. Now can you get me up!” “Well sure Ma’am, but first we want to check you out …… “
It pays to at least KNOW your address, even if you don’t put the number out front where we can find it,

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