Don’t De­lay-Call 911 Right Away

Catron Courier - - News - By Sher Brown

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.

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