It’s been interesting to lay low in the last few weeks, playing my part in the fight against keeping that pandemic at bay. I’ve been busying myself in tinkering with a Raspberry Pi, figuring out how to insulate our cold storage to make it part of the rest of the basement and various other mundane projects. Oh, and spending quality time with my wife of course. 😊
One thing I didn’t expect however was having to deal with our local 911 service and in extension, our medical system.
Friday morning, my wife woke up in excruciating pain. First off, you must understand that she has a high tolerance to body discomfort, as she has a condition that creates chronic pain. So, when she says, she’s in pain and she can’t stand it, I know there’s something definitely wrong; especially when she’s the one who asks if I can call 911 for her.
My first call to 911 was rather annoying. I’m sure the woman I spoke to was probably over-worked, but it’s still not an excuse in the way I was treated. She would ask me questions and promptly cut me off while I was trying to respond. I was told at first that an ambulance was on its way, but there were more questions she still had to ask. I answered them and then she informed me the ambulance was canceled as she deemed our situation was not of an urgent nature and then I was being transferred to a nurse that could help us over the phone. The nurse turned out to be a reception desk clerk who said someone could return our call, but it would be within the next 2 days. I hung up and decided to call TeleHealth; a phone line that delivers a similar service. Annoyingly enough, I was informed that the timelines would be the same for that service as well. I finally lost it and told the agent: “Listen, I’m blind and have no means to drive my wife to the hospital. My wife has mobility issues and can’t walk long distances.” Suddenly, I was given a time slot within the next hour. I hate having to use the disability card, but it seems in this climate of paranoia and sparse resources, a lot of genuine emergency cases are being deemed as non-urgent.
After hanging up, I figured I would try again with 911. I made myself sound more desperate and played the disability card again. This time, the agent actually listened to me and an ambulance was finally dispatched. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty one bit. My wife was told by the doctor that if she would have waited, she would have gone into sepsis and it would have been too late for her. She had kidney stones and an infection. So, if I had played by the rules and waited for that call… she would have died! I’m not being melodramatic here, I’m just stating a fact. I understand that things right now are quite atypical, but at the same time, perhaps the 911 agents might want to spend more time listening rather than trying to find an excuse to deny emergency service to people who genuinely need it.