Monday, January 07, 2008

Emergency 911...Police, Fire, or Ambulance?

I often have the sneaking suspicion that I am a magnet for both bizarre things happening and bad things happening around me. Not sure if this is what a psychiatrist might label "magical thinking", but is it a psychiatric thing if it really happens?

Take today for example. I took my dog, Bert, out for a morning pee at 6:00 am. As I stepped onto our sleet covered deck I heard the sound of glass shattering across the street at the golf course. I looked over and there was a white van in the parking lot. Its interior light was on and it looked like someone was inside it reaching over from the driver's side to the passenger's side. I wondered if I should call 911 (the emergency #) and have the police come and check it out. To me it both sounded and appeared that the Van was being broken into.

You are probably wondering why I hesitated to call. I guess I was worried I was imagining everything. So I went inside and out the kitchen window I could still see the light on in the van. Still unsure of what to do I fed the dog and then looked back and saw the light off in the van. I went to the front door and turned on the front porch light in case the suspected perpetrator decided to head my way. As I did I saw a man ride by on a bicycle with a duffle bag on his back. That did it. It just seemed strange a man riding a bike in the snow on our scary road (a country rode that is narrow with huge ditches on either side) and the duffle bag was the kicker.

I called 911, apologized for calling over a seemingly trivial matter, but they were happy I called. Within 2-3 minutes two squad cars showed up. One headed after the cyclist and one went over to the car. It seems they could not find the source of the glass breaking sound, but told me I was right to call nonetheless. When I left they were investigating the house on the golf course.

This brings me to why I feel like I am around for more bad or bizarre things than most people. I called my sister and asked her how many times she had called 911 this year. She said none. "How many times in your lifetime", I queried. Again, the answer was none. This was the 5th time in the last year I have had to call 911. All but one of the times were for accidents that happened in front of me.

In the beginning of last year I heard what sounded like someone breaking all the windows in the house the next farm over. It also sounded like a domestic dispute was taking place with a man screaming at the top of his lungs. I called 911 and the police came. It was actually coming from 2 farms over and a tenant was smashing tons of glass windows that were placed up against a shop. He was drunk and the owner was trying to stop him.

About mid- year last year the car in front of me at a major intersection in town t-boned a car turning left in the intersection. I called 911. In mid summer I was coming back from a visit to the veterinarian critical care centre. My very sick dog was in the car. The car behind me switched lanes and accelerated as I turned right onto my road. The van coming towards us turned left after me and was struck by the car that had just passed me. The van spun out of control. I sped up and it narrowly missed me, but unfortunately hit a telephone post across the street. Both drivers were badly injured. I called 911.

Then approximately 1.5 months ago I was sitting in my living room and I hear a massive crash and all our power went out. I put on my boots and went outside and saw that a car had hit the hydro pole in front of our house. It had hit it so hard that the utility pole had split in half . The top half had javelined itself back into the ground and was still standing. The car was like an accordion. It was so squished up I could not imagine anyone in the car surviving. I almost threw up as I headed towards the car to help the occupants. Miraculously I saw the drivers door push open and a man stepped out without a single cut on him. Despite his pleas that he was okay. I called 911. He was in shock and I was concerned he might have internal injuries.

All that was this past year alone. Previously, I was behind a car that entered an intersection on a green light just as a motorcycle with both a driver and passenger raced through the red light. It was horrendous with both the bike and the people flying through the air. The passenger died immediately. The driver was so badly injured his leg was bent backwards. It was awful. I called 911.

When I was in university I was on a busy Vancouver street when a panel van went by with the sound of a woman screaming bloody murder and "help me" coming from the van. I called 911. A few years ago I was walking up the sidewalk on another busy street. Traffic had slowed down and I looked to see what was up. A car was positioned as though it were turning left, but there was no road to turn on to. All the cars were simply going around the stopped car. No one stopped.

I looked in the car and saw a man hunched over the steering wheel. I went over to the car and the man was having a seizure or a heart attack or something. I ran to the closest store, called 911 and went back to the man to stay with him until help arrived. I couldn't believe all the people around never stopped to help and all the cars just kept driving. It's a sad world.

Maybe that's why I'm always calling 911. It may not be because bad things seem to happen in front of me more than in front of other people. Instead, it may be that I try to help when bad things happen. It frightens me that others might experience the same number of opportunities to help others, but might not stop to do so. I think I was afraid to call 911 this morning because who I felt like they must wonder about me down at the precinct. How can one everyday person witness so many emergency situations in one year?

I will tell you about the bizarre things that happen to me another time.


jcat said...

You probably remember it from when you were a kid too....but there was that woman beaten to death on a New York pavement - Kitty Genovese - and dozens of people heard and saw it from their apartments? And no-one was willing to 'get involved' by calling for help?

The emergency depts can always make the call as to whether it is really an emergency or not - as long as they know about it. At least you aren't just ignoring something that might be serious.

Of in SA, calling the 911 equivalent doesn't even get answered half the time. And if it does, the chances of getting a response the same day are also pretty slim. Which is why even people on really tight incomes subscribe to private security least they might show up sometime this century..

Polar Bear said...

Wow, that's quite a few calls to 911! But you did the right thing. I think what happens when people don't call 911 is the "bystander effect". People assume other people will call emergency services, and it ends up with no one calling because everyone assumes someone will call.

But you sure have seen quite a few accidents in your lifetime! I'd struggle to even think of one I've seen right in front of my eyes.

James said...

I feel like a magnet for "bad things" too. I sometimes feel like the angel of death because so many people have died that I've had contact with.

I attract people wherever I go even though I just want to be left alone.

For example, I can't count how many times I've pulled up into a parking spot only to have someone pull in right next to me moments later.

Or I come out of the store and go to get into my car and someone pulls up next to my car. So I have to rush to get in the door while they stare at me for being in their way. Grr!!!

Sometimes I think I was cursed when I was in Africa and want to go back to have some cleansing ceremony. Of course I'm a big skeptic about such things but my magnet/moth to flame disaster persona makes me want to do drastic things to change it.

Philipp said...

Your example is one of the evidences that van drivers are really 'folk devils'. I still can't imagine how they dare to behave themselves on a road so madly.It seems that man and van are nightmare on roads. It is true that a van man is now most often viewed as a mobile thug – a dangerous threat to the decent, right-thinking, motoring majority.
Happy that you did not come to harm.