Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"911, What's Your Location?"

Yesterday my office manager received a call from a frantic guest saying that her nephew had been hurt in a biking accident. She asked to be connected to her mother's room and for Jenny to contact the medical center. My office manager immediately jumped into action, calling the center and getting the name and number of the doctor on-call. Of course, this being Mackinac Island, she had to leave a voicemail. Soon afterwards the grandmother of the boy came rushing up to the front desk, also asking where the medical center was located. We explained that there wasn't actually a doctor at the medical center and asked that she wait until we heard back. By this point, the aunt and nephew were on their way back to the hotel. We had a wheel chair waiting and had already alerted our night manager, who is also the assistant fire chief on the island.

The emergency? A deep cut on the knee. Not exactly a cause to be all up in arms and radioing 911, but I think emergency officials see so little action here that a hangnail could bring the entire police force. There was indeed a lot of blood, however, and the poor kid was crying like his leg would never be the same. The owner of the hotel, Mrs. Kate*, grabbed some washcloths from the maid closet and pressed it to the sobbing boy's knee. As the aunt and grandmother wiped away the blood, Mrs. Kate came into the office and grabbed a roll of scotch-tape. My coworker, Gretel*, and I questioned whether it was her plan to tape the hand towels to the boy's leg. Low and behold it was.

As far as emergencies go, this wasn't exactly one where time was of the essence. I think the best parts were watching Mrs. Kate scotch-tape the cloths to the boy's leg and later hearing that some of the servers had told my roommate, the infamous Summer, that the boy had lost his pinky. And better yet -- she believed them.

This incident brings me to another emergency that befell The Orchid nearly a month and a half ago. Summer and I were working the night shift together when we received a phone call from the dining room. Not wanting Summer to strain herself, I answered the phone for perhaps the twentieth time that night. It was the hostess, Krissy*, telling me to call 911 because a woman had fallen outside of the restaurant.

"911?" I repeated, a bit shocked at the request.
"That's what her daughter said."
"Did she break something?"
"I don't know. Her daughter said she just fell outside the door and told us to call 911."
"Um okay."

Summer looked at me as I hung-up. "What's up?" she asked.

"Krissy said someone fell outside the dining room and her daughter wants us to call 911."
"She fell?"
"I guess so. Do I really call 911 for that? That feels a bit extreme if she just tripped."
"If that's what the daughter wants, though."

I stared at the phone for a moment. I had never called 911 before and still had the childhood notion that 911 was only for life and death situations and calling for anything else was akiillegal. Someone tripping didn't feel like an actual emergency.

"911, what's your location?"
"Oh, I'm at The Orchid Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan and apparently someone fell outside our restaurant?"
"Yes, ma'am. We have already been altered to the situation and have an emergency vehicle on the way."
"Oh." I should have known that our night manager would have radioed the incident in already.
"Do you know what happened, ma'am?"
"I just know that she fell."
"Do you know how old the woman is?"
"I actually can't see her. The dining room called me and just said that a woman fell and that I needed to call 911. I can't see where any of this is happening. The woman has a daughter so I'm guessing she's middle aged maybe? 30 to 60?"
"Okay, ma'am, thank you. The ambulance should be there shortly."

The phone barely touched the receiver before Krissy came tearing down the hallway. She threw herself onto the front desk. "She's not breathing!" she exclaimed.

"She's not breathing!"
"I thought she just fell!"
"She collapsed outside the door and now she's not breathing. Tom's performing CPR."
"Holy shit. The ambulance is on its way. Tom had already radioed it in."
"How old is the woman?"
"I don't know. Forties maybe?"
Krissy ran back down the hall. I called 911 again.

"911, what's your location?"
"Hi, it's The Orchid again on Mackinac Island."
"Yes, ma'am."
"The woman's not breathing."
"Okay, ma'am, the emergency vehicle is on the way." The medical center is less than a mile away from The Orchid. I wanted to ask how it could possibly be taking this long even at a normal driving speed.
"And apparently the woman looks about in her forties."
"Thank you, ma'am."
"I didn't know if you still needed that."
"I will let the respondents know, thank you."
"Okay. Um...bye."

Summer and I sat in stunned silence. "I thought she just tripped," I said, feeling slightly guilty for not having taken the situation more seriously to begin with. "They didn't make it sound that bad," Summer confirmed. We went into the lobby that looked onto the pathway to the dining room. From the panoramic windows we could see Tom furiously performing chest pumps, calling out instructions to Krissy. We couldn't see the woman. To the side of the porch I noticed a girl about my age standing off to the side, sobbing hysterically into a cellphone. It took me a few moments, but I finally recognized her as the daughter of a mother-daughter couple I had given a hotel tour to the previous afternoon. She and her mother were taking a girls-only vacation.

Summer and I watched the scene unfold until the ambulance arrived. Tom met the paramedics and rushed the gurney down the pathway. One of the responders took the daughter up the road that led to the medical center. The office phone rang and I dashed to answer it. It was a man inquiring about room rates. I felt oddly disrespectful talking so casually about our accomodations after having watched such a tragic scene.

A half hour later our dining room manager, who is also Tom's mother, walked into the office. She asked if we had heard about all the excitement. Summer and I said that we had and asked if she knew the status of the woman. She replied, "I don't know, but the fact that Tom went over in the boat to St. Ignace with them tells us she's probably going to be okay."

"Why?" I asked.
"Because as morbid as it sounds, Tom wouldn't ride over to St. Ignace with a dead body."

Three hours later, Tom returned to the office. "She's not deadsies anymore," he said. "She was deader-than-dead for a while, but not anymore. It's good when they're not deadsies." Good to know we're in such sympathetic hands.

1 comment:

  1. You really do have all the fun. Thanks for sharing it with us.