Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Firetruck and an Ambulance Walk Into a Bar

The Baltimore Health Department send out a tweet today saying they were calling a code blue for tomorrow. Snow expected with serious cold weather. We've already had a couple of deaths this winter - two were elderly people who were in their homes but died of the cold.

So I asked Cam to go and check on one of our neighbors, who is quite elderly. I wanted to be sure she was okay and to see if she needed us to pick anything up at the store for her.

She didn't answer the door and Cam reported that her mail was beginning to pile up. I asked him to ask one of our other neighbors if she had seen the first neighbor, or knew the phone number of her son. (When we moved in he asked me to keep an eye on her but forgot to give me her number and we keep missing each other so I haven't been able to get it yet.)

Neighbor number two didn't have the number and hadn't seen any signs of life at neighbor number one's house. By now it was well past sunset and the house was still completely dark. We all agreed that I should do something but what?

I asked Cam to knock on every one of her doors and see if he saw any signs that she was home and okay. Nothing.

I called the fire department and asked them if they check on neighbors and they said they could. I gave them all the info and they said they'd look into it. For some reason I expected them to just drop by in a car, but then I got to thinking they'd likely come in an ambulance in case she was in bad shape (I remember at my old house when they came to check on the lady across the way and loaded her into the back of an ambulance, never to be seen again. A different family moved in a few months later.) Then I thought maybe they'd bring their fire truck in case they needed to break into the house. So not a discreet visit - instead a big show, which is what happened; a fire truck and an ambulance showed up.

In the end it turns out my neighbor had indeed suffered an accident. She'd broken her hip but had already been rescued and was in the hospital! Her son forgot to tell me. I feel bad for wasting the county's money on a false alarm but at least we live pretty close to the fire department. And another of our older neighbors has asked me to keep an eye on her also. She had a pretty fall, breaking her foot and couldn't get back up a couple of years ago. So she wants the same service as the other neighbor. I live to serve.

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