Retired Firefighter    ■    Power Dispatcher    ■    Husband    ■    Daddy    ■    Grandpa    ■    Crazy Man

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brad's Pre-911 Checklist

The first time I ran a call to Brad's house, it was a pretty big deal. Dispatched to a person not breathing, I had grabbed Equad 51 and showed up first. To a locked gate.

I figured that what with whatever drama was going on inside, it was hardly a surprise that no one came down to unlock it. I fumbled over the gate and hustled to the front door, airway kit and AED at the ready, and tried the door. Locked.

Now those of you who have ever responded to the wrong house know the dark wave that washes over you at this point. Crap, am I at the wrong address? There are lights on, but no sign of activity. I eyed the numbers next to the door as I swallowed my pride and radioed in for confirmation. Turns out, I am in the right place.

I banged on the door, announcing "fire department!", as Engine 53 pulled in. Finally, a shadow moved across a window. But still, no action at the door despite continued severe knocking attempts. Engine 53's duty crew joined me and I tried to explain, but the Captain didn't even give me a chance to really start before sending a couple guys to look for another access.

And then we heard a muffled voice. Hang on, it said. Then click... click... chain rattle.... and the door opened. Immediately, I know this guy is a strange fish, and he had unlocked a lot of locks.

He calmly led us to a bedroom where he identified the patient as his mother. An elderly female was lying neatly in bed on her back, with perfect unrumpled blankets pulled up to her shoulders. And she was dead dead dead. Gray/blue, cold, with lividity present in strange places that did not match her supine position. This was just getting weirder and weirder.

She had apparently passed earlier in the day, and when he came home and found her, he decided she needed to be cleaned up. I don't know exactly how he went about doing it, but she was clean, had clean sheets and everything. He dolled her up as best he could, and then placed the 911 call to report that Mom wasn't breathing. Despite expecting us, he had not unlocked the door and gate.

E53's Captain was unfazed. He already knew Brad from other calls.  I've been to Brad's two more times for other things since, and it's never boring.

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