Nine One One

7:15 AM …

I heard the screech first, then the thump. Instinctively I looked to where the noise came from and saw a body arc through the air, then another thump.

“OH MY GOD!” I yelled, “OH MY GOD!”

Then something triggered in my brain. I stopped yelling and reached for my phone. The driver approaching in the other direction stopped, got out, and told the person to stay down on the ground as he had tried to stand up. She knelt down to talk to him. My hands shook as I dialed 9-1-1, the three numbers I never want to dial1. I heard my voice shake as I answered the questions. What city? Police, fire or ambulance? What address?

I noticed that there was another person on the phone (the passenger in the car of the person who had stopped to help the pedestrian) and I told the operator that I thought maybe someone else had called 911, “That’s OK. We’re talking to you.” She continued her questions, How old is the injured? Male or female? Is he awake?

All the time, I was walking toward the injured person. Cars were still trying to eke their way around the scene so I made my way carefully into the middle of it all. I answered a few more questions while in view of the pedestrian. A neighbour brought out a sleeping bag to cover him and keep him warm. The bystander was still holding his hand and talking to him to keep him conscious.

The operator talked me through some instructions and kept me on the phone until the first emergency responder, a police unit, arrived. She then thanked me for being helpful and said I was the only one who had called 911.

In quick order, another police car, a fire truck and then an ambulance arrived on scene. Everyone quickly went about their duties, taking over management of the patient, interviewing the driver who struck the pedestrian, interviewing witnesses, and controlling the scene. The EMTs assessed the patient and brought out a back board to move him. Once I had given my brief statement to a police officer, I called home to let them know what all the sirens were about and that I was OK.

Traffic had backed up in both directions and the bus I was supposed to be on was stuck in the midst of it. I did a self-check, should I go back home or was I OK to go to work? One final check to make sure I was not needed for any reason, I decided to walk toward the next stop then figure out what to do if I missed the bus.

Walking the four blocks was enough to clear my head, thank the universe that it hadn’t been me in the crosswalk, and calm down. Two women who normally take the same bus as me were still waiting at the next stop when I arrived. I explained what had happened and said that I expected the bus would be along shortly. It did.

I boarded the bus and my day continued as if normal but what I saw of the accident — the arc of the body and the second thump as he hit the pavement — is still playing through my mind. I expect it will for some time.

Photo Credit

Emergency Lights – by DrStarbuck on Flickr Some Rights Reserved

First Posted At Flotsam And Jetsam


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  1. avatarCarol Namur says

    Hi Cheryl,
    I have worked on ambulances and wish to congratulate you for 2 things:
    The first is for being so quick to call 911!
    Despite the shock to your system you were very quick to call 911 and, as you were given to realize later, no one else did!
    IT may surprise you to know how often there is quite a delay for that call to be given, even though people are around and that most people carry a cell phone pretty much everywhere they go.
    The reasons are not just shock at witnessing an event!
    Often it is just the idea of getting involved in any way with what just happened.
    The excuses one gives oneself are: ”There are plenty of people around… They have cell phone… I am going to be late…someone is already calling!’’
    Some time, more truthfully,’’ I don’t want to see it… I don’t want to get involved !”
    You could have done any of these things… you could have missed your bus… you could have been late to work! But you made that call! When you left, you were told no one else did!!! Imagine the delay that injured person would have incurred in getting what may very well have been vitally important care. YOU may very well be the first reason this person is still alive! The severity of injuries is not the only reason a person may die from an accident, the accompanying psychogenic shock, even when injuries are not life threatening, can be just as deadly. You see the drastic lowering of blood pressure created by the shock means that the whole body is now starving for Oxygen and glucose. The quick arrival of trained and well equipped personnel can help in stabilizing this life threatening condition. So, bravo for being so quick to call 911! Even if you see people speaking on a cell phone, does not mean they are calling 911 and even if they are, they may have hang up before giving important information.
    The second reason for the congratulation is:
    You are speaking and writing about it.
    Hopefully this will encourage more people to do the same. A side benefit for you is that, speaking and writing about it will help you let that memory fade quicker. It will allow you to just remember it as a moment in your life where you took control despite the very natural unsettling and dramatic moment experienced. In doing so, you helped another human being by being the vital link bringing to him the professional help he needed. I am sure that more people will do the same after reading your article. BRAVO and THANK YOU!

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