101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Tuesday, January 20

You Make the call...Electric Wheelchair...What Happened

Catch up on the situation and comments HERE

Before we get to the meat and potatoes on this, a little salad.
These wheel chairs need to be given only to those who need them, not anyone who wants them. I meet dozens of folks who were GIVEN a chair by some doctor's group or manufacturer, likely at the expense of medicare, without a medical need. Even met a woman who had 2 of the exact same chairs in her living room, never using them. Called the local news station about that one.

Our friend Bob in the chair doesn't have a disability, he is "simply" obese. He uses the chair, "to keep from walking," since he gets winded if he tries to walk. With the chair he is able to get to the market, the corner, anywhere that sells the fattening crap he eats that put him in the situation he's in. The chairs are a great resource, but there's an elderly person somewhere who was told 'no' to a chair but this Bob got one.

So what did I do in this particular situation?

The chair has a standard three prong plug, but the battery is dead. "How long does it take to charge?" I ask, looking at the collection of snacks in the bag attached to the back of the chair. I'm convinced that each package alone was easily 500 calories and there are dozens of them. And a 2 liter bottle of generic cola.
"Overnight is best" he mumbles.
We've exhausted our official list of taxis, vans and wreckers (seems the tow company on call will take the man, but not the chair) and are down to head scratching.
We're at an intersection of three roads and a bus access lane, making a kind of makeshift 4 way super intersection. Across 2 of the streets is a small strip mall type area where a number of shops and restaurants are closing for the night.
I see our solution in the hands of a waitress in a pizza parlor.
"Will this thing move if we plug it in?"
"Yeah, but why?" He adjusts his over sized, thick eyeglasses.
"I have an idea, Ricardo (My partner's BS name) block traffic when I come back out will 'ya?"
Into the pizza parlor to borrow the extension cord the waitress is using to vacuum the floor. I explain the situation to the manager and he's soon back from the stock room with 2 more cords.
We got traffic stopped (it was light), got him plugged in and moved him over to the pizza parlor. The man was embarrassed, but for all the wrong reasons, and we pleaded the manager to let him recharge for awhile.
As we left he was sitting in front of the local pizza joint, battery light flashing yellow, wolfing down a slice of something greasy.

If you said keep the man and chair together, just not in a hospital, you made the right call.

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