I have now made my first (and I hope only) call to 911.
I was walking back to my car from work on Tuesday, when I was accosted by a homeless woman, waving her hands at me and asking me to please help this sick lady (in very broken English). She wanted me to use my cell phone and call 911. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, or where the woman was, and was reluctant (as I imagine anyone would be) to make a 911 call without knowing more about the situation. I tried to get more information from her, and just then a guy came riding up on a bike who spoke a little more English. Since they seemed to have a clear idea of what the issue was, I finally dialed 911 and handed them my cell phone to see if they could explain directly to the operator. But they wound up getting stuck in the recorded-messages part of 911 and giving up. They thanked me, and handed back my phone, looking disappointed.
I was walking on back to my truck thinking mostly about how I was already late to pick up Mike, but I just couldn’t shake the incident from my mind. I thought about it some more, and decided to make one more try. I drove my truck up to where the woman who’d accosted me was still hanging about hoping for help, and asked her where the lady was, who needed help. (I thought maybe, even if we couldn’t get an ambulance, I might be able to take her to help in my truck.) She took me over the train tracks and into an empty lot under the freeway (I was briefly worried that I was being set up to be mugged), where, in a surprisingly cozy little shelter made of concrete blocks and cardboard, I found an older woman lying down, with another woman holding her hand.
I asked what was wrong, and thankfully the sick woman spoke English. She’d been throwing up blood, and fainted about fifteen minutes ago–she needed to get to a hospital. I was just backing out of the shelter and thinking about my options, when my phone rang. I answered, and a voice said, “Did you just call 911?” It was the 911 operator, ringing me back! So I explained the situation to her, she asked a couple of questions, then said she’d call the paramedics. I went over to the corner I’d directed them to, waited a couple of minutes, and then flagged the ambulance down as the paramedics drove up. Took them over to where the sick woman was, and that was that.
I wish I knew more about her story–what had happened to her, what her life was like, what was wrong, how it all turned out. I wish I’d had time to stick around and find out more, and maybe talk to her friends a bit–but I was already late meeting Mike, and perhaps it’s just as well that I didn’t. My curiosity shouldn’t stand in the way of someone getting needed medical attention. Still, I wish I could have found out more.
So there’s my first (and I hope only) 911 call. I hope she got the hospital and got the treatment she needed!