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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When Do YOU Call 911 For Someone For an Ambulance?

The other day, somebody called 911 for a person who was apparently sleeping near the side of the road. When we got there, we found nothing.
We called the guy back on his cell phone (the caller's phone number comes up on our computer), and we asked him where the person was and how the caller knew that the person needed an ambulance. The caller said he didn't know if the person needed help, he just thought that maybe he did. We asked him if he knew if it was even a person, and he said he didn't know. We asked him why he didn't stop and find out, and he said it was because he was in a car and there was a lot of traffic. The caller was not willing to come back to the location to show us where he thought he saw a person.

It gets worse...

20 minutes later, we got called to the same exact location, for the same exact thing, but it was from a different caller, who was also driving by at 50 MPH, and also didn't bother stopping to check to see if it was actually a person. We looked around and eventually we found was a pile of clothing, which was stacked on top of a bucket, and possibly, maybe appeared to be a person sleeping, from the perspective of somebody driving by at 50 MPH.

We called this second caller back also. He didn't answer, so we left a message, politely asking him to return to the location, and show us where the person is that needed our help. We told him we found a pile of clothes that might look like a person (to an imbecile), but we didn't find a person. He never responded. In case anyone wants to call the guy and ask him what the hell he was thinking that night, his phone number is 512-431-2164, and his name is Chris Simonson.

I dismantled the pile of clothing, and amazingly, we did not get called back to that location again. We should make a law, declaring that hobos hereby may not pile clothing in such a manner to resemble a sleeping person, punishable by banishment to Uruguay, along with the imbecile that called 911 for the pile of clothing.

In our little socialist society, the ratio of basic ambulances to people is about 30,000 to 1. So, when you call an ambulance for a B.S. reason, 29,999 people don't have access to the closest ambulance, if they need one.

So, At what point should YOU call 911 and ask for an emergency ambulance for someone?

1. If you think a person (verified that it is a human) might need a little help, but you're not willing to go find out if he needs some help, cause you're an inconsiderate dumbass, then don't call 911 for an ambulance.

2. If there's a better-than-average possibility a person might need some help, but you're not willing to find out for sure, cause you're an inconsiderate dumbass, then don't call 911 for an ambulance. For example, someone just crashed his car, but you have no idea if he's hurt and/or if he wants an ambulance.

3. If you know a person needs some help, but you also know he doesn't need an emergency 911 ambulance, but you're not willing to take him to the hospital, and you still want to feel like you're a good person, so you think you might just call a 911 ambulance for him, cause you're an inconsiderate dumbass, then don't call 911 for an ambulance.  For example, an acquaintance of yours is sick, he needs to go to the hospital, you know the only thing an ambulance can for him is give him a ride (just like you could), but you don't want to deal with it (due to blood, vomit, coughing, mucous, time, or because you'd have to help him get in the car), so you just call an ambulance, because you're a Christian, and Christians call 911 for people when they want to feel good about themselves.

4. If you know a person needs to see a doctor, you know that the person needs to be moved by a stretcher (because he's an invalid or has a chronic illness), but you also know he doesn't need an EMERGENCY 911 AMBULANCE (there is no life-threatening emergency condition, for which the ambulance has a remedy, and time is not a factor...e.g., he's had a bed sore for the past two weeks...or he has the flu), and you're not willing to go through the hassle of calling and waiting for a private ambulance, so you want to just take the easy way out and call an emergency 911 ambulance, cause you're an inconsiderate dumbass, then don't call 911 for an ambulance.

5. If you know a person is dead, and you know he's been dead longer than 15 minutes (so he can't be revived), but you don't know what else to do, or you don't want to wait around for the police, cause you're an inconsiderate dumbass, then don't call 911 for an ambulance.  If you didn't know before, I'm telling you now. If someone is obviously dead, when you call 911, specify that the person is dead, and tell them you only need the police, not the ambulance. 911 Operators are too dumb/cautious to make decisions for themselves; you need to tell them you don't need an ambulance. Now that you know, tell a friend (along with everything else you learn on this highly educational blog).
6. If you know for a fact a person needs an emergency 911 ambulance (because you've stopped your car and asked), due to uncontrollable blood loss, an uncontrollable airway, a heart attack, a severe breathing problem, a stroke, a need for heavy splinting or spinal immobilization, or any situation where, if the person did not go by emergency 911 ambulance, his condition would get a lot worse, or he would likely die, then you can call 911 for an ambulance.

Here's the key:

To know if someone needs an emergency 911 ambulances you need to ask a few questions...
1. Is it a human?
2. Does the human have a life-threatening condition for which he needs to see an ER doctor?
3. Does the human NEED a 911 emergency ambulance to get to the ER, because without it, his condition would get significantly worse?

45 comments:

Braden said...

Okay, I'll go out on a limb:

I'll skip 1 and 2.

3 - I see a car crash, I dial 911 and let them know that there was a car crash. If they want to send an ambulance then they do that.

4 - I may call an ambulance depending on the amount of blood involved, and sometimes a person who is not medically trained does not understand the ins and outs of what actually constitutes an emergency. But mostly this is a no.

5 - Most people don't know the difference between a 911 ambulance and a private ambulance. If they know the person needs a stretcher for transport they call 911 and I can't say I blame them too much. Perhaps it should be better advertised that there is a difference and that a private citizen can call a private ambulance (I don't think most people know this).

6 - If I see a dead person I dial 911 and let them know what I know. If they decide to send an ambulance, that is their prerogative.

7 - I'd probably scoop and run.

Anyway, I think the big problem is that people see a problem and they call 911 because that is what they know to do. And in some cases, (such as the car accident or a dead body) a 911 call is probably the proper thing to do. People don't know the protocols that are followed when 911 is called, they just know that this is the way to inform the police/fire/ambulance that there is a problem.

Crusty said...

Braden, Yeah...I get that people call 911 for everything because they're ignorant and lazy. That's why I wrote this post...to help effect a change (oh and, cause I think it's funny).

#3 If you see a car crash, get out, go check and see if anyone wants an ambulance, and when you call 911 (supposing the victims haven't called already called or are incapacitated), you can tell the 911 operator that there was a crash, nobody wants an ambulance, and you just need the police. Then they won't send an ambulance.

What we don't need are drive-by callers. You think you're doing something nice, but you're contributing to overloading the system, and causing taxpayers to needlessly spend more money on B.S. You're not the only one who owns one of those cell phone thingy's; nobody needs you to call 911 as you're driving by at 60 MPH.

#4 What are WE going to do that the average person can't do? You're absolutely right, we don't know shit...that's why you don't need to call us. What are a bunch of idiots with a box full of band-aids going to do for a non-obvious emergency? The average time it takes to get someone to the hospital by ambulance is about 40-50 minutes (30 minutes, if we REALLY hurry). In most cases, you can get there faster if you just jump in your car and go.

#5 The purpose of this blog is, in part, to help people understand the difference between private and 911 ambulances. Now that you know the difference, tell a friend.

#6 I agree that it is appropriate to call 911 when you find a body. However, you need to tell them that the person is dead, and you just need the police.

You're right, most people just think the best idea is to call 911 for everything and let them figure it out. That's why we need to change the phone number from 911 to 467-329-8462. People need to stop relying on the government so much and do more for themselves and eachother. 911 operators are as dumb as we are. When you call them, they send an ambulance, unless you them otherwise.

What exactly are you trying to defend? ...the perpetuation of ignorance and reliance on the government?

Anonymous said...

I'm dangerous because I'm CPR/First Aid Certified and have something to prove... so I actually stop and try to help. I'd only call for #7 when the fur is about to fly and proverbal fecal matter is going to hit the fan as far as life or death goes.

Rod Witkos said...

Oh my god, I love this blog!

Matt M said...

Crusty, if they are hurt or dead they should take personal responsibility for taking themselves to the hospital. None of this reliance on government handouts.

If they are dead, and cold, then the person who discovers the body should dig a hole either with a shovel or heavy equipment, then place the body within. None of this reliance on government handouts.

Reports of accidents should attract private ambulances, just as they attract private tow trucks. At least they used to attract tow trucks here in Houston, until the socialist government sold the rights to tow on sections of highway to tow companies. Now the free market right to chose from a variety of vendors has been lost.

Got to go downtown now, to see if I can get some of that free turkey dinner.

Braden said...

I don't know what I was thinking last night. Perhaps it was someone different responding, because you are right... what AM I trying to defend? I hate stupid socialistic crap as much as the next crusty ambulance driver, and personal responsibility is the central tenet of my political views.

A couple points, though, on your response:

* You say: "What are a bunch of idiots with a box full of band-aids going to do" I say: First of all, they are not actually band-aids. The department is far too cheap to buy name brand. Second, most of the medics I know are a whole lot smarter than me when it comes to dealing with medical problems. On average, I am amazed at how much information the medics are able to give me every time they bring in a patient - all that information plus IV plus glucose plus EKG plus meds administered all while traveling in the back of a bumpy exam room traveling at 60 miles per hour, and they usually give me more information than I would be able to get in the same amount of time in a comfortable ER suite. So when I talk about not knowing the ins and outs of a medical emergency, the last person I am referring to is the medic.

* You say: "you need to tell them that the person is dead" I say: if the caller fails to mention this little tidbit of information, then they probably also voted for Obama.

* You say: "Now that you know the difference, tell a friend" I say: have you ever seen Bat Thumb? If not go to this YouTube clip and watch in particular 1:30 to 2:35.

Anonymous said...

Alright Crusty,

Here's my worse 911 passerby call: I lady called 911 because someone was walking toward a water filled canal with a large piece of metal on his head. She said she thought he was going to kill himself by drowning himself. She didn't bother to notice the scrap metal yard just beyond the canal.

BFT

Ladyk73 said...

Lets see...when have I called 911.....

Hm... I was driving down the highway, car goes round and round and round on the highway, hit the merdian, we are two cars behind, we drive by flashing our breaks lights because if we stop we can have a 20 car pile up. I called, told them what mile it was. told them I didn't see the airbags deploy, but it looked like at least police need to come.

I called once for a tranforming exploding. I told them I saw a big flash, a big boom, and then walked back to see what happened. Hey, It was scary! But I went and checked it out for the 911 people and all was well.

I did not call 911 for this, someone else did. Somebody got hit by a truck on a rural area of a truck route. I think I witnessed someone's soul rising. He was a mess. I was about to reach for a pulse...when there was this overpowering 'energy' to let him go...The first responders acted in "slow code" mode.

Okay, this was funny. My furnance was fucked up, I had a headache from hell and my CO detector was acting funny. I called the fire department (I live in a dinky small town). I asked them, hey, can you pretty please come by with a CO detector, when you have a moment, promise to not have any big lights? Yeah, they sent a fucking brigade. My furnance was fucked, they turned it off. But no CO.

Oh yeah, and then there was the flasher/rapist that I called, again, the police department. To be a good FYI citizen and all.

Yeah, I am the annoying citizen that calls the local police department when the teenagers decide to blow off firecrackers in an old grain mill. I was thinking they would blow up the neighborhood. Yes, I am one of those annoying citizens. that call the non-emergency numbers

Anonymous said...

I have never called 911, and I hope never to

Shalom said...

If you live in New York City, the answer is apparently #6.

(cue wavy lines) About 15 years ago, I was working in Manhattan. There was a guy who hung out at our shop, lived upstairs in the building, about 81 y/o, maybe 40% functional heart muscle, who was in a more or less constant state of CHF. He knew well enough that one day he wouldn't wake up, and left instructions for what to do at that time with my boss. So one day we realized that we hadn't seen him for a couple days. My boss climbed up the fire escape to his apartment; climbed back down looking kinda green, and told me to call the cops and tell them that Sam was dead. I dialed 911 and told them there was a dead man in the upstairs apartment. Shortly thereafter I heard the call go out over my scanner: Unconscious male in apartment ### at ### st. What the hell, that's not what I told them...? Sure enough, an NYC-EMS ambulance shows up. I asked them why in the hell they were sending an ambulance for a guy who'd been dead for probably 2 days already? They said that they always did that. Probably they don't trust some non-medical person (my boss was a locksmith) to know if someone's really dead or not.

Crusty said...

Good stuff, Braden. I especially fancied that Obama Voter video. I know you hate haters, and I apparently am the hatinest Hatey Smurf ever. However, I like to think my hate has a positive purpose...eradication of socialism and promotion of personal responsibility, accountability, and freedom (I think I sort sounded superhero-ish right there).

MattM, I can't tell if you're sarcastically contradicting what I say, or if you're supporting what I say, but I like it. The bottom line is, how did anyone acquire the right to have someone else take care of them? That doesn't mean I don't believe in helping people that need help; I just think it should be the job of citizens and private companies. The tow truck analogy is strong.

BFT, there should be a law that says people can not walk near the canal with a piece of sheet metal, so as not to cause others to construe their actions as a potential attempt at suicide. If that lady wanted to sue the recycling company, I think her case would stand a solid chance of winning. Imagine the heartache she must have felt.

LadyK73, those are beautiful flowers, did you grow them? Yeah...we've allowed ourselves to become a society without any options other than asking our all-powerful socialized government services to solve the problem for us. In a free market, there would be other options, and you would not have to feel bad about calling 911 all the time.

jay said...

I would have to answer 7, but I would probably still call 911 for the dead body for two reasons. First, I am basically forced to pay to help fund that system (the 911 network); I might as well enjoy its convenience. Second, I would make sure to mention “dead body” several times and not request an ambulance. Who the 911 dispatcher sends is another story.

For example, as a kid, my brother and I discovered a natural gas leak on an empty lot. It was such a small leak that we couldn’t smell gas until we walked right past the leak, and there wasn’t anything nearby, so we called 911 with that information. They sent a fire truck and an ambulance to our house with lights flashing and sirens screaming. We told the firemen where the leak was and they went over and looked at it, shook their heads, and called the gas company.

I had been under the impression that the person answering 911 calls would use discretion as to who needed to be sent out. However, it seems that the 911 dispatchers send out everybody they can “just to be safe” when they only need to send a cop or a utility worker. With that in mind, I wonder how many of the calls you respond to could be eliminated if a 911 operator told the non-emergency callers to drive themselves to the hospital or called the meat wagon to deal with the dead bodies.

Joeymom said...

I went hunting for a number for a "private ambulance" after reading this. Finally, I called the non-emergent police number and asked about this. I was told if I ever felt I needed an ambulance, I should call 911. So I called my doctor's office. They said the same thing. I called the hospital. Guess what they said? "What are you talking about? If you want an ambulance, you call 911."

I never found a number for a "private ambulance."

The only time I have called 911 for an ambulance was when my child was turning blue because he could not breathe (sudden-onset croup (from first cough to turning blue was about 15 minutes- who thinks to drive to the hospital when a child first coughs?).

Crusty said...

JoeyMom, yeah...I would have expected the police, the doctor, and the hospital to say that. It's a lonely world out there for people with enough principle to do the right thing and avoid using socialistic government services, especially when you don't absolutely NEED the services. Everybody seems to have bought into the idea that the government is there, so you should use it. However, the more you use it, the bigger it grows, and the bigger it grows, the more it takes from you and everyone else.

Police are one of the biggest abusers of ambulances. They call us for EVERYTHING, including small scratches and bumps, just to be safe. They call it CYA'ing (avoiding liability). Read some of my prior posts...they are filled with idiotic calls from police.

Doctors do the same thing. They don't want someone to come back and sue them because they told them to get in a car and get to the hospital when they get a chance. The safest thing for them to say is "call 911 RIGHT NOW and take an ambulance to the hospital!!!" We respond to people all the time with very minor symptoms, for which we have no remedy. When we ask what they thought an ambulance could do for them, they say, "I don't know...I just called my doctor, and he said to call a 911 emergency ambulance."

The bottom line is, the ambulance is there for extreme emergencies, supposedly (the emergencies I mentioned in scenario #7). Do you want it to be there for anyone who ever wants a ride to the hospital (or somewhere NEAR the hospital, for that matter...people do call us for that)?

If you don't NEED an ambulance, you shouldn't call one. If the ambulance doesn't have the medical knowledge or equipment to help you, you don't need an ambulance. If you can get in a car and get to the hospital faster than it would take an ambulance to get you to the hospital (about 45 minutes), then it's in your best interest to go in your car (unless the ambulance has something that will save your life in that situation, and it would take less time for an ambulance to get to your house than it would to drive to the hospital...defibrillator, airway control, e.g.).

Do you want to know what our protocols suggest for Croup? Give oxygen, try to find humid air, and head for the hospital. Epiglottis is a little different.

Remember, the private ambulance is for situations that are not life-threatening emergencies, when someone, with a chronic or several day-old problem, can't be moved without a stretcher.

LCourage said...

WTF? Do you really think after I order pizza online so I don't have to actually pick up the phone, I'm going to then stop on my way home to check on something unusual? Especially when I can call 911 and let someone else deal with it? What if Survivor is on and I forgot to DVR it?
Pizza Hut + Survivor > Being a responsible citizen = every time except on Sunday (and then maybe on Sunday).

The terminal learning objective should be: If you call 911 and you're not sure if it was 100% justified then always tip the Paramedic (not EMT-basics). Whether it be with money, food, or sexual favors.

(BTW I have to give props and echo what Matt M said)

idahokat said...

No point in hashing over what has already been discussed.. besides that, I really enjoy this blog/always glad when there is a new entry. "Snotty Remarks" that's great!

Some of this may be regional. The small sticks town I did EMS in 10+ years ago was all 911 dispatched. At the time, there were no private ambulances available in the area. Honestly, I don't think the average public (regardless where they live) know the difference between the two. Even as Braden mentioned in his first reply.

Joeymom said...

I still have found no numbers for a "private ambulance." Closest I got was the "volunteer rescue squad"... and they told me to call 911.

Anybody else have this "private ambulance" thing in their area?

Joeymom said...

Yes, the "give oxygen" thing was really important. I was informed by the doctor at the hospital that without it, my child would have died. Oh, and my the EMT as well. I can't give that myself, you know. WE don't have oxygen tanks around here. I already had him in a moisture- laden room (THAT I could do.. and fired up the extra humidifier and the steam bath the minute we heard the cough. With the result being he turned blue. Go figure.)

So... you tell me. What was I supposed to do?

Crusty said...

JoeyMom, I don't understand where the communication gap is here.

Your kid apparently had a life-threatening condition. He had an airway management problem, which required the equipment/knowledge of the 911 ambulance. Do you get the idea I'm trying to tell you otherwise?

It sounds like it was bad, grave, life-threatening, scary, a true emergency, there were no other options other than to use a publicly funded 911 ambulance, or whatever you need to hear.

I wish there were other options to socialist programs, such as gubment funded 911 ambulances. When there are no other options, and you have a life-threatening, emergency condition, which could possibly be mitigated by an ambulance, then you should call 911. For example, when your child has a blue face, and it's not normally blue, then you should probably call 911. You're a horrible mom if you don't.

If you don't have a life-threatening emergency condition, you have a condition for which the ambulance has no way of helping you, it would take longer for an ambulance to get to you than it would for you to get to the hospital, or if someone is obviously very dead, then don't call for a 911 emergency ambulance.

If you have to get to a doctor, but you don't have a life-threatening emergency condition, but you need a stretcher to get around, then you should call a private ambulance. If you don't know how to use a phone book, or if there are no private ambulances in your area, then you should either learn to use a phone book, start your own private ambulance company (since there is obviously a market for private ambulances in your area), or abuse the 911 EMS system.

Shalom said...

I think there may be a bit of a language barrier with this one. Hereabouts (not too far from NYC), "Ambulances", so-called, are *always* used for emergency response; there's no such thing as a non-emergency ambulance. The kind of thing you're talking about is known here as an Ambulette; they are not, as far as I know, authorized to use lights/sirens when transporting patients.

Crusty said...

Well...whatever it's called...if you've got a non-ambulatory person on your hands, who just needs to see a doctor, but doesn't have an immediately life-threatening emergency, then call one of those things, instead of 911. Pretty please?

Joeymom said...

Should I assume "publicly funded" includes "insurance covers it"? Because we don't have a free ambulance here, either. The volunteers charge you.

Which is why freeloading drug addicts piss me off. They waste your time and put up my tax bill- AND my insurance bill.

Perhaps the breakdown here is that is it totally incomprehensible to me why you would call 911 if you could get to a hospital yourself in time to take care of your emergency. We have "emergency clinics" that even save you the huge charges of an actual hospital emergency room, you just have to drag yourself there. Dragging yourself (from our location) saves you about $800 without insurance, and for us, $75 with insurance (that's a mighty expensive cab ride).

And the drive-by calling of 911 is completely beyond me. If you see an accident that is serious enough you want to call 911, and you see no emergency vehicles, you STOP. And if it is not serious enough for you to stop, why are you calling 911 about it?

I think I may just be a very confused person about why people call ambulances. :P

Crusty said...

Despising free-loaders, increased taxes, druggies, B.S. calls for ambulances, and people who call when they don't know for a fact that they need an ambulance...we're definitely speaking the same language now.

Anonymous said...

I hope I never come across an ambulance driver like you. Funny you want to help people and this is the attitude you have. Maybe you should have picked a different profession. Next time I see someone who looks hurt, I'll just drive by and think, gee, I'd hate to inconvenience an EMT. I better not call.

Anonymous said...

Anon, no you should stap them to your hood like a dead moose. You know like a good old gosh darn Mc Cain Palin voter would. Or better yet just back over them a few times to put them out of their misery. That would save tons of money.

Crusty have you ever thought about working in a prision or jail so you could spare the general population your shitty attitude?

Crusty said...

Yawn...

These last two comments have to be from one of my friends...just trying to mess with me...because it's hard to believe that someone with the ability to read is as mentally deficient as you appear to be.

I don't know any EMT that would not have a shitty attitude about arriving on the scene of a car accident, only to find out that some imbecile, who thinks he's a superhero, because of his amazing powers to dial 911 on his cell phone, drove by, did not bother to get out of his car and check and see if anyone needs an ambulance (or even if there IS a person on scene), and called an ambulance for someone who did not need an ambulance.

You're right, I should not be a gubment-funded EMT, with my bad attitude, and neither should anyone else. Fire all of us.

Working in a prison is a fantastic idea. Then I could help free all the drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, and other consensual sex crime committers. I could essentially nullify all the bad laws that the rest of you ignorant, tyrannical, socialists create.

You're looking for the problem in the wrong place.

EE said...

I call 911 everyday so I can get a free ride to my closest drug dealer, aka Dr. Doper!

Anonymous said...

When has 911 been called in my house? x2

Once in 2006 after I ate something that had seafood in it and didn't know. I'm DEADLY allergic to seafood, no one could find an epi pen, and my throat was closing and I was turning blue. Nearest hospital? 35mins away. 911 was called.

Once in 2001. My uncle fell off his truck, broke his leg. Three days later, he was running a fever of 104.2, having seizures, and peeing blood at the same time. Nearest hospital? 30mins away. 911 was called.

I went into anaphalactic shock. It was the ambulance drivers that saved my life.

My uncle ended up with the fire department at the house because all the ambulances were busy on the other side of the island (hawaii)... The fire department emptied our fishing freezer (we deep sea fish and always have ice on hand) over him, and physically restrained him to prevent him from hurting himself. Diagnosis? Infecton in the blood from the break.

So if you don't want people calling you, can't stand it when not everything is a 100% life threatening emergency where you get to save the day... Do everyone a favor and get another fucking job.

Crusty said...

Anonymous, I can tell you're brilliant, just by reading your highly cogent comments. You almost even spelled "anaphylactic" correctly. I'm glad the gubment-funded ambulance was able to help you and your family defy Natural Selection and continue reproducing.

Thanks for taking the time to impart some of your wise advice to me. I wanted to run an alternate idea by you...how about if dumbasses just 'do us all a favor' and stop calling ambulances for B.S. reasons, thereby burdening the entire society a little less, and making me less irritated?

EE, why else would anyone need an ambulance? If nothing else, I'm honored to be a part of a government entity which facilitates noncompliance with its own drug laws.

Flanders said...

Anonymous people are great....

I'm giving you names (in descending order).

Kepila (Hawaiian for Sybil):
If the medics who saved you were chasing fictional patients or transporting hypochondriacs we would not had the pleasure of reading your bi-polar contribution.

Hillary:
I like your idea. Most of the readers are here to hear about dealing with the lowest common denominator. You may have found the only way to increase that exposure.

Squigward:
Don't worry there's only one Crusty. I'm sure most medical professionals like wasting time and money, catering to system abusers and riding the new and improved socialist wave.

Shalom said...

@Anon11:47 ... I think you just proved Crusty's point.

How many of those ambulances on the other side of the island do you suppose were unable to respond to your uncle because they were answering calls from people who didn't need an ambulance in the first place?

Brianna said...

We don't have private ambulances around here. Non-ambulatory people who need to be moved are moved in vans, if they can be, and if they are not stable enough to be practically moved without a stretcher, they are moved by the emergency ambulances. You aren't supposed to call 911 for them, though, you're supposed to arrange it through the hospital you are going to so they pick you up when they aren't expecting that much to happen elsewhere.

Also, haven't you read all the stories about people who stop to help people in accidents and get shot/stabbed/attacked by the "victims" of the accident? Anyone who stops takes their own life into their hands. At least the police and the ambulance usually arrive at the same time, so someone can maybe shoot the crazy drunk who is attempting to kill the ambulance driver. I would probably stop as far away as possible, try to determine if they were moving around and if there was a lot of blood, and if they weren't or there was, tell 911 they might need an ambulance in addition to the police. I would NOT go up and get a pulse. I'm not exactly a big woman and I don't feel the need to be killed trying to be a good Samaritan.

I've never called 911 myself. The only times it has been called to my house were a) a fire on a tree outside, we told them no one was near it and they just set the fire truck, b) when we saw a man driving a car and smoking a joint, they sent the police.

Crusty said...

Brianna, No, I haven't heard about people staging car accidents and killing people that come to help them. I think I saw that in a zombie movie once though. If it HAS happened in real life, it's not a widespread problem. If I wanted to kill some innocent folks, I could think of several other better ways of murdering folks than by wrecking my car and stabbing them when they come to check my fleeting pulse.

By the way, the ambulance almost always arrives long before the police, unless the police were the ones who called us.

However, I agree with you, if you're worried accident victims are going to bite your neck and suck all your blood from your body, then don't get out and check someone's pulse. But, I might suggest the following...

1. Stay in your car, roll down the window, and ask them if they need you to call 911 for an ambulance. You don't really need a pulse...you just need someone to say they need an ambulance. If they don't respond at all, it's probably a safe bet that they need an ambulance.

2. If someone is not OBVIOUSLY injured and in need of an ambulance, you're not willing to get out and check, and you're not willing to drive by and ask, then save your heroic 911 phone call for someone else. There's about a 99% chance that the people involved in the accident have their own cell phone. It's not the 90's anymore; you're not the only hero with a car phone.

I can't understand why it seems so confusing or cold-hearted to ask cell-phone-heroes to verify that someone needs an ambulance before calling 911. To me, it seems like common sense, and it actually seems cold-hearted & inconsiderate to tie up an ambulance, when there may be someone else who REALLY needs that ambulance.

There's not an endless supply of ambulances (about 1 per 30,000 people in our city).

It's like Flanders and Shalom said, where would the anonymous Hawaiian be today, along with her uncle, if the ambulance that saved her life was tied up on a B.S. call?

Am I going crazy, or are the rest of you going crazy? It's getting harder to tell.

chuckr44 said...

If you see a car crash, get out, go check and see if anyone wants an ambulance, and when you call 911

In some states it is illegal to pull over and park on the shoulder unless it's an emergency (letting your kid or dog out to pee is not an emergency) and you can get a ticket for pulling over. So, let's say you see a guy resting in a car on the shoulder. Did he die of a heart attack? Or is he sleeping? Well, I don't want to get a ticket so I simply drive on and call 911.

The law encourages this "do not get involved" behavior, even if your state does have a Good Samaritan law. So don't always blame the people.

What we don't need are drive-by callers. You think you're doing something nice, but you're contributing to overloading the system, and causing taxpayers to needlessly spend more money on B.S.

The LAW encourages overloading the system, not the people. Talk to your congressmen.

On another note, what in the heck is a private ambulance? Do I have to crack open a phone book to find one? What if they don't take my insurance? What if they don't take the victim's insurance? Why should I pull over to call 911 if
1) the victim is a meth head and decides to rob me,
2) I cannot legally defend myself (Michigan law),
3) I might get a ticket if I pull over and if it turns out it is not an emergency after all?

And if you think I'm exaggerating about Michigan Law, call a Michigan Lawyer and ask them how easy it is to prove self-defense. You are guilty until proven innocent (just like France).

Crusty said...

Chuckr44, I like your anti-law/anti-government slant. However, while being irritated with an ever-expanding government, you're asking for more government. Are you saying you want more government involvement in your life because it's too difficult to help someone without involving the government?

In the case of Michigan, how about we blame the people and the law? Both need to be changed.

I would doubt you're going to get a ticket for pulling over to check on someone. If you're worried about it, then don't pull over, but also don't call 911; you're just not cut out to be a cell-phone-hero. If police are that voraciously seeking offenders of this law, then they'll quickly find the guy slumped over his steering wheel anyway, and you don't need to worry about saving the day.

LCourage said...

hold me

Brianna said...

"No, I haven't heard about people staging car accidents and killing people that come to help them. I think I saw that in a zombie movie once though. If it HAS happened in real life, it's not a widespread problem. If I wanted to kill some innocent folks, I could think of several other better ways of murdering folks than by wrecking my car and stabbing them when they come to check my fleeting pulse."

It's usually crazy people who crash the car because they are drunk/crazy, then assault those who attempt to help them, not staging car accidents-- though that happens too. Heck, Ted Bundy used to fake injury and lure good samaritan college girls to help him.

But here are some examples:

http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-29499482_ITM

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/seattle911/archives/152506.asp

http://www.theindychannel.com/news/15712258/detail.html

Took like five seconds on Google. I mean, yeah, chances are it's not going to happen in the grand scheme of things. But chances are that hitchhiker isn't going to kill me and chances are the person who picks me up hitchhiking isn't going to kill me, and they still advise people not to hitchhike.

"Stay in your car, roll down the window, and ask them if they need you to call 911 for an ambulance. You don't really need a pulse...you just need someone to say they need an ambulance. If they don't respond at all, it's probably a safe bet that they need an ambulance."

If they are out of the car, and thus would be able to hear me, and they are not obviously spurting blood, I'm not going to call an ambulance, like I said. They probably have their own cell phone and can call themselves, and if not, they are ambulatory and can come up to me parked on the side of the road and ask me to call. But I'm also not going to walk up to someone in their car who might or might not be unconscious and check, because I have no idea who they are, if they are drunk, or if they are armed.

I wouldn't call unless I saw the accident, didn't see anyone else calling, didn't see any movement or saw a lot of blood, and was there at the side of the road to kind of look over and be there in case they were moving and didn't have a cell phone or it was dead. But I would NOT get out of the car, unless I had medical training and was thus ethically obligated to. But if, as you say, no response = probably need an ambulance, or bleeding = probably need an ambulance, then you should have no problem with someone pulling over, staying in their car, confirming by sight that no one is calling 911 and they aren't all walking around and obviously fine, and only if they are obviously not moving or obviously injured, calling 911.

Crusty said...

So tired... must go on... must... keep... responding to comments...

Brianna, see if you can find some articles on shark attacks, and then convince all of us that we should never swim in the ocean again. Or, what about bird flu, SARS, or terrorist attacks. We could all just stay home, but at home, we could be attacked by home invaders.

Look man, if you don't want to get out of your car to see if there is actually a person, and that person needs an ambulance, and you're not willing to drive up close and holler to them, then you're not cut out to be cell-phone-hero. Let someone else do it. There are thousands of people dying to be heroes on car wrecks.

Am I asking for something extremely absurd by asking people to only call 911 for an ambulance when they have a pretty good reason to believe someone actually needs an ambulance (within the limitations of the situation and their knowledge)? I'm not asking you to be a highly trained medical professional, and I'm not asking you to brave your life.

I'm just asking the general public to make a little more effort to find out if someone REALLY needs an ambulance before calling 911, or make a little more effort to help people, without relying on government services to do everything for you.

Is that so absurd? Am I asking too much? Am I a horrible person by asking for a little more personal accountability and resposibility? Do you want government to keep growing bigger and bigger?

Sandy said...

I am an ER nurse, married to a paramedic. We get plenty of BS calls for people wanting a drive to the ER. However, around here, there is no difference between calling 911 and calling directly to the EMS service. I am a woman, often driving around with several small children. Nope, I am not likely to stop at an accident. The one time that I called 911 from my car, it was more to get the police to check something out when I was on my way home from work at 2 am. They asked if I stopped, of course not! I don't carry a gun. The police can check out problems along the side of a secluded road in the middle of the night..not me! The last time I dispatched an ambulance for a family member, she was 80 yrs old, had a broken back, and we couldn't get her out of the chair. That was two years ago.

Anonymous said...

All you computer savvy readers driving your fuel efficient vehicles, sipping on your lattes, speeding past and rubbernecking ("to look about or survey with unsophisticated wonderment or curiosity") an "accident," while changing the radio station, after leaving CrackDonald's and are in an absolute glutton state... You wanna help? Stop taking your (overweight) kids to see Ronald and concentrate on the road ahead of you... Put down that egg mcmuffin while your at it.

... "Joeymom" type in the search engine on your laptop, private ambulance (your) "small sticks town"... I put in “private ambulance houston texas.” J.C. It's a miracle! I found one or two (hundred) nasty, shitty, little dialysis transporters. Now, if you live in that "small sticks town" and you have a medical condition and/or your prone to having (thinking) life or death circumstances AND you don't have private ambulances to taxi you 'round the heartland: KILL YOURSELF! Your life is about as exciting as bird watching, HARDLY. Don’t feel bad or angry (with me)… You’re not the exception; in fact, you’re the rule (mine is boring to). Crusty has a helpful guide for you to end it all, if you need some stimulation.

"Lady," you can dream up all these fascinating scenarios. Like that one time: I was in 'Nam back in '55 or '56 doing black ops. with the French... Back before America knew there was a Vee-At-Fuck-In-Nam... How are our stories similar? All of it is bullshit. All this chaos and mayhem, IT DOESN'T HAPPEN. Get a life... Or end it… Um... How 'bout YOU just stop calling 911 or thinking about reasons to call.

"Stranger than fiction" ... Who ever came up with that saying, must have been drinking from the same pitcher of kool-aid as you. Life... Real life is boring.

Why the affinity for 911 and MVAs? You wanna help the fucking asshole that (you) cut off five minutes ago? It’s amazing to me how people pick and choose when they want to get into other peoples shit (business) a/k/a “help.” No examples here: You know who you are. Hint: If you even thought about answering #1-6, I’m taking (directly) to you.

Hey "I hope I never come across an ambulance driver like you... … I'll just drive by and think, gee, I'd hate to inconvenience an EMT. I better not call." Since when do I tell you how to bag my fucking groceries? I don't, I let you do your shitty job OR I do it myself. Why don't you STOP and render this magical aid you think will be provided once 911 is summoned. You drink red kool-aid with a shit load of sugar in it, don't you?

Final thought (unsophisticated wonderment): If you so much as glance in the direction of anything (stalled vehicles, someone changing a flat, etc.) on the side of the road and you are driving (anything), you are a fucking asshole. What if you’re not driving and you look? You’re just an asshole.

"Anonymous people are great...." Yeah "Flanders," we are. You certainly aren't writing in anonymity, are you? Where do you live, Springfield? What are you twelve? Go put your jammies on and go to bed before your mom spanks you for staying up past your bedtime. I’ll be home in a little bit to tuck you in.

B.O.B.

Anonymous said...

I'm a 911 calltaker up here in Hamilton Ontario (near Toronto). It is our centre's pilicy (actually, Provincial Law) that we dispatch an ambulance for any call that involves an injured person (or the possiblity of an injury). So, if someone calls me for a "dead guy", an ambulance is rolling.

While I agree with nearly everything, at the end of the day, its your job. Like it or not.

Crusty said...

Anonymous Calltaker,

I realize it's the call-center's pilicy to dispatch an ambulance every time someone calls, no matter how stupid the call seems to be. However, the public doesn't realize that, which is why I created this post. I was attempting to spread the word that when you call for stupid reasons, they will dispatch an ambulance. So, don't call for stupid reasons. Use a little judgment before you call, do a little investigative work, or, I know it sounds crazy, but actually help someone out yourself every now and then, rather than calling 911.

I don't say this because I don't want to work. I say this because it's a complete waste of time, resources, and most importantly, taxpayers' money when people call 911 for B.S. reasons.

Somewhere, someone along the line needs to filter some of the calls for public services, which are paid for by money which is forcefully extracted from taxpayers. Public administrators don't want to do it because they're scared of liability and political consequences. So, I'm asking the common citizen to do themselves a favor and stop calling 911 so frivolously.

I'm sorry you feel threatened by me asking people to stop using your services so much, because most public servants love when people waste public resources, because it provides them with job security. I feel bad that taxpayer money is being wasted, and I think it should be corrected, even if it means that I will lose my job security.

Anonymous said...

* You say: "you need to tell them that the person is dead" I say: if the caller fails to mention this little tidbit of information, then they probably will vote for Palin in the next presidential election.

Anonymous said...

The phone number 512-431-2164, and the name Chris Simonson, is from the movie Death Proof.
Look it up...

Wesley said...

O thank God,

To Crusty,
FYI I loved reading this entire blog this morning. It was witty, funny, informative and completely not the topic I was googling.

To Anon...512-431-2164 :) thank you.

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