Don’t Delay-Call 911 Right Away
Here in Catron County, you could describe the residents as an “independent” lot. We like to do things ourselves—we don’t like to ask for help. But sometimes, we just need it.
After several years in both the fire department and EMS, I’ve noticed that people tend to wait too long before they call 911. If it’s a fire, many times people think they can put it out themselves. They grab the fire extinguisher or the garden hose and attack the fire. Sometimes that might be enough. More often than not, the fire gets away from them. Another thing that frequently happens is that a fire starts and the residents spend time pulling out their prized possessions before they take time to call 911. In both cases, by the time the fire department gets there, it’s too late to do anything but keep the fire from spreading to the neighbor’s house.
Unless it’s a trauma, like a motor vehicle accident, it’s hard to know when to call for an ambulance. People wait, thinking they’re going to feel better, and eventually give in and place the call. For some reason it’s usually in the middle of the night! Frequently, rather than calling 911, people will call an EMT that they know personally. They think the EMT can “just come over and check it out.” Whenever that happens, any EMT is obligate by law to call 911 anyway. All it accomplishes by calling the EMT directly is to delay care.
Emergency response times in Catron County aren’t anywhere close to response times in the city. Both Fire and EMS are volunteer departments, which means no one is sitting at the station waiting for the tone to go off. When a call does go out, responders have to stop what they’re doing, get somewhat prepared to respond, and then drive to the station to pick up a fire truck or an ambulance. Most responders live a good distance from the station, so it can be thirty minutes or more before a vehicle ever leaves the building. And not everybody is available all the time. (Ed. EMTs also go on vacation and have appointments in the city, meaning that person might not be home when you call. So call 911 to get the EMT on duty.)
So here’s what we, as emergency responders, ask. If you have a fire emergency, call 911 immediately— even if you think you can put out the fire yourself. We need to get on the road right away. If you get it under control, we can always turn around, but we’ll probably come out just to make sure. If you have a med- ical emergency, please don’t call your favorite EMT directly. Call 911 if you think you need to go to the hospital or if you need medical help. We’ll come, anytime day or night.