Keep Calm...And Call An Ambulance
On Ninth Avenue last night, the blaring horn of a moving bus startles me.
Up ahead, I see the reason for the honk:
A white-haired woman is trying to cross too much street in too little time.
In a panic, she starts to lose her balance.
I sprint toward her and in the beam of bus headlights, her bags and cane and legs go flying in opposite directions.
She goes down headfirst, a millisecond before I reach her, a millisecond before the bus swerves.
Blood has already spattered the asphalt when I lift her small, sobbing frame toward the curb.
You’re gonna be OK, I whisper.
I sit behind her and elevate her head as a crowd starts to gather.
Will someone please block oncoming traffic, I ask.
A man wearing a hat steps into the street and holds out his arms.
I make eye contact with a girl and make the sign of a phone with my hand.
Call 911, I mouth.
She nods and pulls out her cell.
I’m sorry, the woman in my arms explains. I thought I had the light, but then I saw the bus—and fell on my face.
It’s OK, I assure her. Better to fall on your face than under the bus.
That’s true, she sighs. But I never should’ve gone out tonight. I didn’t really need to go out tonight.
Happens to the best of us, I say. I’m Tré…what’s your name?
Phyllis, she answers. I live just across the street.
Another voice chimes in, asks if he can do anything.
Yes, I reply. Reach into my bag—front pocket—and find the package of Kleenex. Can you hold it to her head?
Another man—who I recognize as resident celebrity Ethan Hawke—is handing me one half of Phyllis’ broken glasses.
Thank you, I say. Can you try and find the other half for her?
Ethan shifts the young child in his arms and scans the street as another man steps into the scene.
Phyllis? Is that you?
Larry! she exclaims.
Are you her neighbor? I interrupt.
I’m a friend—what happened?
I fell on my face, Phyllis repeats.
Phyllis, I say. Do you want Larry to take your groceries to your building?
No, no, she says. I’ll take them myself—if you’d just help me up. What happened to my cane?
I tighten my arms around her and find her ear.
I have your cane, I whisper, but you’re bleeding from the head and if you try to stand, you could fall again. Let’s just stay here until the EMTs arrive.
EMT? I don’t want to go to the hospital. I just need—she starts to struggle—to get up and go home.
I understand what you’re saying, I tell her. But if you go home, you’ll know you need medical attention as soon as you look in the mirror. So let’s skip that step and see what the medics say.
She ignores me and reaches toward Larry.
Larry, she calls. Can you help me up? I need to go home.
I shoot Larry a look that says don’t-you-dare.
I think it’s better if you wait for the ambulance, he says softly.
Phyllis, I say. Besides your head, does anything else hurt? Your legs or your arms?
No, I just fell flat on my face.
So no other pain? Can you tell me how old you are and if you have any medical conditions?
So I can inform the medics. Remind me how old you are?
I’m 94, she says. And if you can avoid it, don’t ever get as old as me.
I’ll keep that in mind, I laugh.
As the sound of sirens grows louder, there’s a collective sigh of relief from the crowd.
Our human traffic barrier steps aside for the ambulance.
Ethan gives me the missing half of Phyllis’ glasses.
Larry asks if I’m going with her.
Yes, I nod, if they let me.
The medics appear and I introduce Phyllis, recite the basic information she’s given me.
Questions are asked and answered before she’s lifted onto a stretcher.
Except for Larry—who I promise to call later with an update—the crowd of good neighbors has vanished. I climb in the ambulance holding Phyllis’ cane, bag of groceries and purse.
Based on her wounds, the medic says, our best bet is Bellvue. It’s the nearest trauma hospital.
Bellvue it is, I say, and turn toward Phyllis. Is there anyone you’d like me to call? Maybe someone who should meet us at the hospital?
She pauses before shaking her head slowly.
I don’t have any family in the City.
Then tonight, I’m your family in the City.
She smiles and asks what my name is.
Creating a Pet First Aid Kit
Knowing what to do (and what not to do) in the event that your pet suffers an injury or any number of other emergencies is of course very important. Equally as important though is having handy the supplies necessary to administer first-aid!
Below I’ve listed the items that every pet owner should include in their pet’s first-aid kit. Depending on your particular pet’s medical history, they may benefit from the inclusion of additional items too. It’s always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian to ensure that your own pet’s first-aid kit is as complete as it can be.
You can often pick up many of these items at your local pharmacy or superstore. But it may be easier and better just to see if you can purchase them through your veterinarian instead. They likely have most of these supplies in their office, and they may even have pre-made pet first aid kits to save you the trouble.
Emergency Room Inquiries
Tonight, I experienced a new thing: dropping off and subsequently waiting for someone at the emergency room. This gave me some time to think. These are my questions:
Has anyone ever thought about how silly it is that one has to wait to be seen at the ER?
If it’s an emergency, how long can it wait?
How do the fine ER staffers prioritize care?
Is there some sort of express lane?
Is there some sort of blood quota one must meet before getting bumped to the front of the bus?
If so, is there some sort of standby squad of nurses and doctors? Is that the A Team?
If the A Team is on standby, why do the non-express lane patients get stuck with the B Team?
Is Mr. T a part of the A Team at the ER, too?
Is George Clooney in?
Why can’t I just see House?