Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cops or EMS?

So I was walking home from Sri Pra Phai, my favorite Thai restaurant in Woodside, Queens and I saw this man dressed in white lying on the sidewalk, not moving at all. He was just lying there and no one was around. It was very dark, after 9 p.m. and that area is not too happening. So I reached for my pocket and realized I didn't bring my cellphone with me. Duh! The one emergency I've had since getting a damn cellphone and I leave it at home. So I ran to Northern Blvd to a pay phone. He wasn't moving at all. I even looked at his chest and there was no motion. So I call 911 and the operator starts asking me some questions after I gave my name and said that there was a man, possibly dead, on the sidewalk between 61st and 62nd Streets on Broadway. She asked if he was drunk and I asked her how I was supposed to know that? She asked if he looked homeless. Again, how was I supposed to know that. But I actually answered her by saying, "He's wearing ALL WHITE, so I doubt it." (As if homeless people don't wear white?). So then to top it all off, she asked me if I wanted her to call the cops or EMS? My response: "Isn't that your job to assess the situation that I just detailed to you?" Unreal. So she then CONNECTED ME with EMS as if she couldn't just give him the address and the situation on her own. But actually, I'm glad she did because then, I realized that this EMS guy on the phone was just as apprehensive about answering the call. He asked the same homeless, drunk and "is he breathing" questions and I got so frustrated and simply asked if they would please hurry up and come. So then he told me to go home, that I did what I could and not to wait. So of course, I waited because I was fearful that they weren't going to come at all. I waited 20 minutes far enough away from the man lying there and when EMS showed up, they kicked him foot a little to see if that would jar him but it didn't! They reached for his wrist to see if he had a pulse and thank goodness he did. They put him on a stretcher and into the ambulance and took him to Elmhurst and I walked home. He was in his mid- to late-50s. It could have been a stroke or something. He wasn't resting against a fence taking a break from a bender. He literally looked like he fell as he was walking past this house on a quiet, residental block. I wondered how many people may have walked past him and thought the same that these operators assumed. As citizens, I think we truly need to protect ourselves first in situations like this but picking up a phone and calling for help when you're not sure WHAT is going on doesn't hurt anyone, right?

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