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A bad fall, lots of blood but no emergency, thanks to emergency response

June 22, 2016
The ambulance stretcher that wasn't needed after all.

The ambulance stretcher that wasn’t needed after all.

It’s 3:21 p.m. Wednesday, June 22. Two minutes ago a Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services medic truck left the McDonald’s restaurant in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue. And just now a B.C. ambulance pulled away from the curb in front of the restaurant.

The ambulance is transporting a 73-year-old woman to hospital. She will certainly receive some stitches for the nasty cut that she received to the back of her head when she slipped and fell in the restaurant not 15 minutes ago.

But I’m happy to report that the stretcher wasn’t required. After her head wound was bandaged up, the woman used her walker and cheerfully made her way to the ambulance under her own steam.

I can’t help but feel I’m partly to blame

victim-of-a-fall-01

The ambulance team arrive, moments behind the Fire/Medic team who are attending to the woman.

Completely focused as I was, reading something on my laptop, the woman had to say “excuse me” at least twice before she managed to catch my attention.

She was standing rather unsteadily by my left shoulder in the narrow walkway between the window seats and the north side of the centre booths. She was a large elderly woman with dark hair and very pallid skin. She needed to hold onto the wall beside me for support.

Rather breathlessly, she asked where I had gotten the black leather fanny pack I was wearing. She wanted to get one because she thought it would be good for carrying her CD player when she went out for a walk.

Another homeless binner had gifted the fanny pack to me and I told the woman simply that someone had given it to me. The only places I could think to tell her where she might buy one were dollar stores, luggage shops and outdoors outfitters like MEC.

She thanked me effusively, apologized for bothering me and began tottering, hand-over-hand on the wall, back to her booth seat. Rather than getting up and helping her (the north side walkway was just wide enough for one person after all), I told her that it had been no bother and then I picked up the thread  of my reading.

The woman didn’t particularly cry out when she fell. There was a scuffling noise, a man’s voice risen in alarm and I pulled my attention back to the restaurant.

Maybe four strides away, to my left, the woman was stretched out on the terrazzo tile floor beside her booth seat. Her legs and feet were pointed straight towards me but she had fallen to the side and apparently hit her head on the vertical square steel post of a window bar seat.

I was on my feet instantly. A man was already squatting by her right shoulder and softly talking to her. She was conscious and responding but she was terribly frightened. There was a substantial amount of blood pooling around her head.

I retrieved a thick stack of paper napkins from the service island at the front of the restaurant and on my way back to the man sitting with the woman, I paused long enough to tell the staff that they needed to call 911 for an ambulance. A customer had fallen, cut her head badly and was bleeding profusely.

After that, I told the woman who had fallen, not to worry, that an ambulance was on its way and everything would be okay. I recommended that one customer change seats to be out of the travel path of emergency responders and from then on proceeded to shut my mouth and stay out of the way.

Within two minutes a screaming red Fire/Medic truck appeared out of the west and blew right by the restaurant. As it turned out, this was so the driver could turn south onto Hemlock street and come back up the system of alleys on the south side of West Broadway. The maneuver allowed the truck to be parked in the alley near enough to the front door but leaving the closer curbside parking spot free for the ambulance that was only a minute-or-so behind.

The Fire/Medic team calmly and quickly took control of the situation. By the time the ambulance team arrived in the restaurant, stretcher in tow, they were pretty much  in time to assist getting the woman to her feet and sitting in her booth seat.

After a short time the woman, who had been scared for her life not ten minutes earlier, was calm and speaking with a smile. The cut on her head was swaddled and bandaged and when the time came to leave, she brushed off the offer of the stretcher. She got up and out of her booth seat on the south side (where the walk space is decently wide) and used her walker to leave the restaurant the same way that she had come in.

The Fire/Medic team left shortly after  woman was helped into the ambulance, which itself soon drove off—without the need for sirens—straight east in the direction of Vancouver General Hospital.

Inside the restaurant, staff were mopping up and cleaning away all traces of the blood. Within 15 minutes it was as if nothing bad had happened. Which was essentially true, thanks to the quick professionalism and training of the paramedics especially but also of the restaurant staff.  Click the images to enlarge them.

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2 Comments
  1. Whew, I am behind on your blog (as on all that I follow), But jumped on it when I realized that you may have been hurt! I’m glad you are OK and that the woman likely will be. Those head wounds bleed like the devil and always look worse than they are, unless complications. Bravo to your quick thinking and unobtrusive manner once you knew she was safe for the moment. 😉

    • I hope she’s alright…I’m sure she is. Maybe I’ll see her again.

      It was one more incident to remind me how frail we will all get. I’ve been ridiculously lucky my entire life–“fell” off a bridge, twice hit and thrown through the air by cars , left hanging 20 feet off the ground, doored. Countless other mishaps. Never anything broken and barely a scratch in five decades. I’ll probably be done in by a freak accident involving something like a blade of grass and a light breeze.

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