A nugget of EMS organizational wisdom every day.#19 And sometimes, it is just beshert.
My friends often remark on how the world seems to conspire to ensure I am often in the right place at the right time when someone needs emergency assistance. The CSL EMS crews and dispatchers still joke about how often they would hear me calling in from my private vehicle on the way home “EMS1 at the scene of an MVA with injuries…”
I’ve come to believe that sometimes, it is just beshert. ‘Beshert’ – the Hebrew expression for ‘meant to be’ – although beshert usually refers to soul mates in a romantic context.
Maybe the Karma Police have me staked out and these slices of other people’s lives caught in a moment of crisis are the equivalent of a cosmic crash. Not an accident.
This story happened several years ago however I love the impossibilities of bringing the right people together at the right moment at the right place.
I had to bring our van into the garage for its annual winter tune-up. And though we lived in the western ‘burbs at the time, I continued to make the long trek back to Merson’s every year because – well, I trusted them to make certain the Odyssey was safe for Di and the kids. I joke and say Merson’s reminds me of the television bar ‘Cheers’. Bonnie laughs and asks if that would make me Norm. It’s that kind of place. Everyone knows your name.
Merson’s is in a pretty rugged part of the city not normally known for its walkabout tours. It’s a mix of industry and commercial properties with vast parking lots where the cold damp winter winds gather their strength before reminding your cheeks why a scarf might have been a good idea.
My aunt, Elaine, had invited me to sit-in on the second-to-last lecture in her Politics of Infectious Disease course at Concordia University. I had walked the couple of kilometers from Merson’s to the Loyola campus in the morning. I listened intently as several students delivered powerpoint-based presentations to their classmates.
I was making my way back to the garage sometime after one o’clock in the afternoon when I noticed a car that seemed rather out-of-place parked on the sidewalk in front of me. Out-of-place because it’s a fairly rare brand and model of car and the only other one that I’ve seen belongs to an old and good friend of mine. But his office was on the other side of the city and I can’t think of a single reason why he’d be in this neck of the woods.
As I drew closer to the car I noticed my friend Allan sitting inside the car talking on his mobile phone. It was an incredible twist of fate. I had not walked that stretch of street in years and there was my friend Allan. As it turns out he had spontaneously decided to pay a pre-Christmas visit to one of his clients – and like me – had been astonished to see me in the same spot at the same time.
We stood outside in the cold wind and got caught up on news of family and friends. I sensed rather than heard something behind me and followed Allan’s gaze to a woman in the process of tumbling to the street. This is a busy six-lane stretch of road that is a transit between here and there and is oft-travelled by people moving quickly looking for an alternative to the frequently jammed highway that runs parallel.
We both began to run across the street. Allan stretched out his arms and the traffic responded by coming to a complete and sudden stop. Several motorists parked their cars to provide protection to the woman and others got out to lend a hand. It was one of those big city moments you want to really celebrate.
The 84-year-old woman insisted on trying to get back up despite our urging her to stay still. She told us she had been ‘through the war’ and didn’t want to bother anyone because she was ‘a little banged-up.’ Like many geriatric patients I have encountered, she was a poster child for stoic. Unfortunately, it became clear that she had injured her hip and leg. Allan dialed 911 and handed me his phone and then ran off in the direction of a nearby building.
The Urgences Sante [Montreal EMS] dispatcher was polite and efficient and told me an ambulance was on the way and would be there within minutes. Allan returned with a chair he had somehow borrowed from a resto-bar and we carefully and gently sat the woman down.
She wanted to ensure we knew just how extraordinarily grateful she was that we had come to her aid. I tried to let her know that we were just doing what comes naturally and that she would have done the same for us if the tables were somehow turned.
And this may sound kind of strange, but I was grateful to her for allowing us to help her. So many times I have seen people refuse assistance only to find themselves in even more dire straits. If we were meant to be there, then I’ve got to believe the Karma Police wanted us to fulfill our duties.
The paramedics arrived a few moments later and Allan and I said our goodbyes to the injured woman.
We crossed the street again and kind of looked at one another with the realization that something special and weird had just occurred. We wished each other well and then continued our respective journeys.
Until those paths cross yet again.
Be well. Practice big medicine.