Today I made my first 911 call ever. Of course, the events leading up to this event were the most surreal of my life. As I was waiting to cross the street into the Gun Hill parking lot, a bunch of cars started passing by, as usual. We have a joke that they purposely come by only when we want to cross. Then, as if out of a Monty Python or Stephen Chow movie, a bicycle rider comes out behind the cars.
Then I thought to myself, “my he’s going very fast,” I turned to tell my fiancee the thought which had just gone through my head along with, “that’s gotta be dangerous.”
I didn’t have a chance to speak because at that moment I heard an explosion and the man on the bicycle was propelled off the bike and onto the floor where he and the bike both rolled. He must have been going at least 20 MPH if not 30! I ran to the man who was still in the middle of the street. He got up and threw himself and the bicycle onto the grass near the street. His rear while had burst – that had been the explosive sound.
“Are you ok?” I asked him. “Do you need me to call 911?” I continued. No answer – not good. “Do you need me to call 911?”
I called 911. “Hello this is 911 what is the situation?”
“Yeah, this guy was riding bike down a huge hill. He was thrown over the front of the bike and he looks like he needs help. His shoulder is dislocated.”
“Ok, where are you?”
“On the hill near Gun Hill Apartments in Ithaca, New York.” I added the last part because I had heard that when one calls on a cellular phone they might not be talking to a local dispatcher.
“They’ll be right over. Can I collect some contact information.”
A few minutes later the police showed up, followed by the ambulance. The man had gashes on his knee, arms, and buttocks. He looked like he was in a lot of pain, but he would make it ok.
I was glad to be there when the accident happened so that I could call for help. Other than my fiancee and I, there were two other tennants there, but I was the first to reach the victim. I’m not even sure the others would have gone if I hadn’t. But I knew what I had to do. Years of emergency training as a lifeguard suddenly came back to me. I knew I had to communicate with the man and ascertain what the problem was. Otherwise, he would have just lay there until someone came and time is the most important thing in an emergency. He wouldn’t die from a dislocated shoulder if he were my age, but this was a pretty old guy. He might have other complications and I had to think quickly. But I was running down there before I even knew what I was doing. And I was glad to have a cell phone so that I could be sure to talk to the dispatchers. It was a great chance to help my fellow man.