Sunday, September 25, 2011


The best thing about living in a senior complex is that it is relatively free of the detritus that accompanies small children and teenagers. The worst thing about it is that there is a constant coming and going of paramedics and fire trucks. The latter can be disconcerning, to say the least.

But I admit to having a good laugh last night as for the second time this week we had the entire fire department pull up in front of our building. The station nearest us is just across the freeway, and we always can hear the sirens when the trucks pull out of the station. The paramedic unit follows. We can hear them come up and over the freeway - and we know they are coming into our complex if the sirens shut off at that point. Yep, we say, here they come again.

What has surprised us the most is that once they stop, the whole rhythm of the emergency changes. There seems to be no rush whatsoever. No one scurries. I think “mosey” would be a good descriptive word for the speed of their activities. Neither the firemen/women nor the paramedics from the ambulance appear to be in any hurry at all. A gurney comes slowly out of the ambulance, the equipment is carefully placed on it, and the attendants mosey off toward wherever it is that they have been called. I have often mentioned to Jerry that if he ever needs me to call the paramedics for him, I’m going to run out towards the truck and yell “Faster, Faster!” (Well, since you know I’m not crazy about making a scene you’ll know that I’d never do that, but it sure seems to me that at the somewhat casual speed attending this emergency a lot of sick people could get sicker before they got better.)

But what has happened these last two times, both of which occurred after we had crawled into bed for the night, is that upon their arrival these firemen ran as if there was a house afire! Except for the fact that it was all carefully orchestrated, it looked from our bedroom window like a Chinese fire drill! Here’s the kicker! Both times a white Fire Department van pulled up behind the fire truck (the battalion chief’s vehicle, Jerry speculated) and out jumped a fire person AND a fellow with a big video camera. Everywhere the paramedics went the man with the camera went too, his camera taping away as he ran.

Since both times the call for help was from a unit out of our view we don’t know for sure what happened, but both times the gurney came back occupied and was hastily shelved into the ambulance and taken away. The cameraman captured the whole thing and afterwards spent some time interviewing the firemen and paramedics. Soon, everyone dispersed to their vehicles and drove away.

With the introduction of this video camera, it has become maddening not to know what is going on. Because the paramedics come so often, and because we know so few people in this complex – we know our neighbors, of course, but the complex itself is so large that we know relatively few people who don’t live close to us – we are less concerned with the reason someone is hauled off in an ambulance than what on earth the filming is about. We wonder if the videocam operator is aware that what he is filming is NOT the way things usually happen. Does the battalion chief, if that is who he is, know he is seeing something way out of the norm.

Last night after the last of the trucks pulled away, Jerry and I laughed to think of that sick person’s speedy care and how lucky he was. We also made a bet that when the videotaping project is finished we’ll see a return to the slow-motion method of operation.

But we’re still curious as to what all that taping is about.

No comments: