It Was Good to Know You

Marc Wentworth, Director, Vail Public Safety Communication Center

Early in my career, probably in 2004 or so I received a call from a man who lived in one of our unincorporated communities, I can no longer remember his name, but I will never forget the call.

We didn’t do EMD at that time, and so I had, of course, gotten his address, name, and phone number and asked him what the emergency was. “I’m really not sure” he said, “I’m lying on the couch reading a book and all the sudden the words are just coming off the page and getting all mixed up. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen”. He told me that he had had a glass of wine or something and that he had gotten a headache so he got his book and laid down on the couch.

I had already toned Fire and EMS to the address and I asked him if his door was locked or open. He said it was locked, so I asked him if it was possible for him to get to the door when the Fire Department got there. “I don’t think so, I really feel like something’s wrong.” He went on to describe the feeling, that the words were still jumbling up in his book and the room was getting to be a little bit darker, he was having a hard time seeing and he didn’t think he could sit up. Then he finished the call, in such a calm and unworried sort of way, he asked me if I could remember the old TV sets; when you turned them off the screen shot down to a little line, then a dot and then went off. I do remember them and I told him so, and he said “it’s just like that right now in my living room, it’s squeezing down to a little dot”.

Those were his last words, I could hear the fire department at the door, we had updated them that the door was locked and the RP couldn’t get to it so after a short period of banging on it, they forced the door. They tried to work this patient, but he was gone.

I learned later that he had had an aneurysm in his brain that had burst. I will always remember this call and for me it’s hard to say if it was a good call, or a bad one. I was struck by this man’s peace and calm manner, he didn’t sound scared or in pain, he sounded at peace and seemed to be filled with wonder at what was happening to him. I think of this call often and I feel honored that I was able to be there, in the ear of a dying man, if for nothing more than to give him someone to tell about it.