101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Sunday, March 1

...for the man down...


I keep getting mailers from a company that tries to get me to use their VoiP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service. I do not use this service for 2 reasons. First, if the power goes out and the power backup on the computer dies, I'd have no phone. The phone in the wall works when the power goes out.
The second reason I learned at work.

THE EMERGENCY

A caller states a man is unconscious on the front porch.

THE ACTION

This area is hilly and the homes are tightly packed. The kind of place where there are 6 mailboxes, one driveway and you can only see 4 addresses from the street. A recipe for disaster you might say.
Turns out the perfect storm of bad variables was counting against our patient.

1. The owner of the home is the one unconscious
2. A visiting friend called 911 and doesn't know the address or how to get to the house.
3. Their phone provider has no home address information, no cell phone tower info. Nothing.

Dispatch advises the number on call back is a customer service center who refuses to forward the call to the caller's number. A policy I learned has since been changed.

Back to the search.

We're wandering through the neighborhood looking at front porches, finding little. The engine is yelping the siren to hopefully get the caller to step around a corner. Giant fire engine on a narrow street, lights flashing, siren yelping early in the morning and not a single bedroom light is coming on.
The medic van arrived on scene from the opposite direction and has been trying the same thing.
After close to 20 minutes searching for the location, dispatch advises they now have a caller on a cell phone and can hear the yelps on the siren.
Midblock, halfway up a hill and completely hidden from the street, was our patient.

In all his drunken glory.
A late night and a scared visitor led to our friend passing out or falling asleep on the porch when the friend locked the apparently always unlocked door.

We were relieved it was not a choking or cardiac arrest. In the house we checked out the set up for the phone and there was the corporate VoiP logo. I wrote the address on an envelope and set it by the telephone.
"Call us back if you need us, but have this handy."

The medics handled the patient and we took the fire engine back home. Back where phones can give 911 information if I stop breathing.

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