Fast First Responders. Yesterday afternoon I was rehearsing a magic routine when something out my window caught my eye. There was a man with his torso collapsed over the stone wall on Bank Street. His arms were flailing and his body was convulsing. After a few seconds he stopped moving. I was afraid I'd just witnessed a heart attack. At the very least it was something definitely not good.
I grabbed the phone and called the Peekskill Police. (Later I wondered why that was my first thought, rather than 911.) Then I grabbed my coat and ran out the door. By the time I got outside, the man was no longer sprawled across the wall. I hoped that maybe he'd recovered and left, although it was only about a minute since I'd called the PPD. As I ran towards Bank Street I tried to remember the CPR guidelines - I just recertified in July, and the guidelines had changed somewhat since my last certification. (How many chest compressions is it now? No more rescue breaths anymore, right?)
I rounded the corner and saw the man collapsed in a heap on the sidewalk. I got to him and I couldn't tell if he was breathing. I had just done Step One (shake the person while saying "Are you OK?") when the police car pulled up. The officer, who seemed impossibly young to me, instantly took control. The officer basically unfolded the man from his crumpled up position and ascertained that he was breathing. The officer said that he suspected the man had been drinking, although he couldn't smell it. He then jostled the man more forcefully than I had and was almost shouting, repeatedly, "Are you OK?"
About a minute later the man's eyes slowly opened - a little. He was pretty incoherent, but he was able to confirm that, yes, he'd been drinking. I asked the officer if I could go, and he said yes.
By the time I got back upstairs to my window, an ambulance had arrived. I couldn't see if they'd put the man inside the ambulance or if he was still on the street. It didn't seem like much of an emergency anymore; the police officer and the EMS folks were chatting, smiling and looking relaxed.
OK, so it was a drunk not a heart attack.The entire episode, from my call to the emergency personel's relaxed chatting, took under ten minutes. If it had been a heart attack, stroke or some other life-threatening situation, this man out on the street would've received help within those precious early moments which can mean the difference between life and death.
I'm not special. We live in a city where people care and help each other. If I hadn't called, I'm quite certain that someone else would have. And as with every other time I'm called the PPD, they were there in a flash.
So let's hear it for our first responders - again.