By Ryan Peters, Fire Captain Aptos-La Selva Fire District
A few shifts ago, as my crew and I were on duty at Aptos/La Selva Fire Station 2 in Rio Del Mar, we received a call around 4 a.m. for a citizen who had fallen in his house and was unable to get up off of the floor. We immediately responded and arrived at the residence within just a few minutes.
We were greeted at the front door by a woman named Lilly (not her real name) who very nicely explained to us that her husband was not hurt and simply needed assistance from the bathroom floor back to bed. The husband had a previous medical condition, which made it difficult for him to stand on his own.
When we met Jerry (not his real name), he was extremely embarrassed to have us there to help. We asked him how long ago he’d fallen and he answered that he had fallen at 10 p.m. the night before. Ten p.m. the night before! He said that his wife had attempted multiple times to help him, but they were simply unable to move him from the slippery bathroom floor.
Jerry and Lilly had tried for 6 hours to fix the situation on their own. When we asked why they waited so long to call 911 they answered: “We didn’t want to bother you guys, since we figured you had real emergencies to go to instead.”
We politely told them to please call 911 right away if Jerry were to end up on the floor again, it’s our job to come lend a helping hand! We quickly had Jerry up off the floor and back to bed. Unfortunately, because he had been on a cold floor for most of the night he was chilled to the bone and feeling a little sore. But a few minutes later, he was feeling back to his normal self and very kindly offered thanks.
Believe it or not, there are many incidents where people just don’t know whether or not they should pick up the phone and call 911. Either they believe their situation isn’t a true emergency, or they’d rather not “bother” first responders of whose job it is to come help out, or they feel uncomfortable dialing 911 because they’ve never done it before.
How many times have you called 911? Most of us go a lifetime and only call once or twice. When that moment arrives where you or your family needs help, please don’t hesitate! It’s OK to call 911. In Jerry’s case, if he had been on the floor during a cold winter’s night, he could have suffered a serious hypothermic event by lying on the floor for so long. What started out as a fairly minor incident could turn into a serious medical event.
So when should we call 911? I suppose that’s the big question. It really is very subjective. Many people interpret an “emergency” differently and will decide to call 911 based on different criteria. Our job as first responders is very subjective in that, on any given day, we can encounter some very complicated and dynamic situations. We can eliminate some of the guesswork by simplifying things. Here are some of the basic situations when you should immediately pick up the phone and call 911:
You see a fire of any size or kind break out. Even a small fire in your kitchen warrants a call to 911. The smallest fire that starts within or around your residence can quickly grow to dangerous proportions. Call 911 right away – don’t hesitate!
Our personnel are trained to the Paramedic level and will deliver advanced life support, along with American Medical Response and their team, to you in a timely fashion. In the case that the medical issue is simple or not serious, our team will assist you in making the best medical decisions for yourself or your loved ones.
If you are in doubt, and you witness what appears to be a medical emergency, please call 911 right away!
Interestingly, there have been major incidents where 911 was not called right away. Many citizens who witnessed these events figured that someone else has already called 911 and didn’t want to duplicate efforts.
Please call anyway. If 911 has been called previously for the same incident, you might be able to provide key information for first responders that the initial caller didn’t include.
Everyone views danger or threats a little differently and we each have our own unique perspectives that dictate the action we will (or won’t) take. As First Responders, we ask that everyone feel comfortable calling 911.
Our team’s mission is to protect life, property, and to assure that the community and its assets are safe. Don’t worry about bothering or inconveniencing first responders, they’ve sworn an oath to provide service when the call comes in, even if it’s 4 in the morning. You will see friendly faces show up at your door, ready to help.
Once again, our main focus is to offer the very best in public safety, service, and risk reduction to all who spend time or live in this great community. If you need help, or see a dangerous situation, please call 911. We love having the privilege to serve you!
If you have any questions about how 911 works, or what kind of services First Responders provide, please visit www.Aptosfire.com or call 831-685-6690.