Around 4 a.m., after a day when it had been 90 degrees outside and the air conditioning was on inside, my husband woke me up and said that he was cold and needed a blanket.
By Jan Hodnett
Around 4 a.m., after a day when it had been 90 degrees outside and the air conditioning was on inside, my husband woke me up and said that he was cold and needed a blanket. I noticed he was shivering and immediately knew that something was terribly wrong — but what? And what should I do?
Of course, he was supposed to drive up to Massachusetts that morning where crewmembers were waiting to help him bring our boat back to Rye, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. However, if I was wrong and he could have made the trip, he wouldn’t be happy.
Take vital signs and determine if the patient is alert.
I felt his forehead, which was hot and knew that what was causing his shivering was a fever. I also took his pulse, which was somewhat irregular, but not too rapid nor too slow. Okay, so, the main problem was not his heart, but more likely an infection. Little did I know that he had sepsis, a serious blood infection.
After about an hour, he collapsed on the floor. When I asked him if he was all right, he didn’t respond, so I knew he needed emergency care and I called 911. I had already decided that I had nothing to lose if it was an unnecessary call, but that he had a lot to lose if I didn’t call.
Let the 911 dispatcher decide — that’s what they’re there for.
When I called 911, the dispatcher kept asking me if he was alert. Well, he wasn’t alert and he wasn’t out cold, so he hadn’t had a heart attack, but he needed attention, so that’s what I told her. She agreed that help was needed and called the Rye Police Department and the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS. Since we are the only house at the end of a dead-end street, I turned on all the outside and interior lights and stood outside. The RPD arrived with a defibrillator in case he had a heart attack, but that wasn’t needed.
EMS in action
In a few minutes, the EMS arrived and immediately went into action. They started an IV to replace his fluids and started talking to Greenwich Hospital, the nearest hospital to Rye. They then wheeled my husband out to the ambulance, took more readings, and continued talking to Greenwich doctors.
Since the communication between the EMS and Greenwich Hospital was ongoing, my husband’s care flowed smoothly from the minute he left the ambulance. He almost went into septic shock, but the doctors were prepared by the EMS and knew what had to be done even before he left the ambulance. As a medical writer I knew that my husband was in grave danger and that if I hadn’t called 911 he probably would not have recovered.
When to call 911
Everyone I tell this story to asks me one question: how did you know when to call 911. There’s no one right answer to this question other than: let 911 operators decide. If someone doesn’t answer you, like my husband, of course you call. If he/she tells you not to call 911, go with your gut and let the 911 dispatcher decide.
In general, if you’re with someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention, call 911.
When calling 911, be prepared to answer the dispatcher’s questions, which may include:
The location of the emergency, including the street address
The phone number you are calling from
The nature of the emergency
A description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by the person having a medical emergency.
Be prepared to follow any instructions they give you. For more information, go to http://www.nena.org/911-tips-guidelines.
Scott Moore, Administrator of the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook EMS, explained that calls from home phones (land lines) go to the local police department, who dispatch EMS and a police car at the same time. “Our crews carry police radios and are always in touch,” he said.
If you call 911 from a cell phone, it ends up at the “60-Control” dispatch center in Valhalla, which then calls the EMS by radio and the local police station by phone.
Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook and Harrison EMS Always Ready
We are lucky that we live in an area where the EMS can get to us in minutes. Hospitals no longer provide ambulance service, so our EMS is our “emergency room on wheels.” Obviously, we need them.
In 2012, the Port Chester-Rye-Rye Brook and Harrison EMS
Answered about 8,000 calls for help (approximately one per hour)
About 75% of calls for help are transported to a hospital
Average response time is 4.5 minutes, which is half that of the national standard
About half of all calls are for those younger than 60.
Support Your Local EMS at the Annual Twig Fair
The cost of EMS ambulance service is partially covered by an annual stipend from the municipalities of Rye, Rye Brook, Port Chester, and Harrison, as well as donations from residents. However, rising insurance costs, decreased insurance company reimbursements, and tightened municipal budgets have limited the ability of the EMS to keep up with the state-of-the-art equipment needs to service the community. This is where the Twig comes in, by dedicating all of its fundraising efforts to support the local EMS.
The Annual Twig Holiday Fair will be held Friday, November 15, 12-6 p.m. and November 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Apawamis Club in Rye.
This is the Twig’s last Holiday Fair, so come out make this a “fair to remember.”