Numbers

Wind, gritty with sand lifted from the pavement pecked at the skin on our faces, bitter, painful and relentless.

"Come with me, it's freezing out here," I said to the woman. She stared into the wind, unblinking. Tears rolled down her face, she made no effort to wipe them away.

"Come on now, we can't leave you here," I said, taking hold of her coat. It was a nice one, hardly used.

"There's cats in the meadow," she said, and followed me.

"Are there, and what kind of cat's might they be?"

She made eye contact then, and continued.

"The bisque is frozen, better get on with it then."

"You can't eat frozen bisque."

"The pencils need sharpening."

"I hate writing with dull pencils. Do you write often?"

"If the laundry is done in time, we'll go to the park."

"Is the park near your home?"

Nothing then, but at least we were inside the rescue, heading toward Rhode Island Hospital and safety. She had been wandering around downtown for hours, and nobody paid her any attention. The city is full of strange characters, she mixed in with the rest, and appeared to belong.

"Where do you live?"

Nothing.

"I bought a lottery ticket yesterday, 423-5342."

She looked up, and again made eye contact.

"476-2343."

She stayed interested.

"942-8725."

She continued staring, but spoke.

"2372983. 2372983. 2372983."

I wrote the number down. When we pulled into the rescue bay at the hospital. I used the truck phone and dialed the number. It hadn't rung once when a frantic voice picked up.

"Hello."

"This is Lieutenant Morse with the Providence Fire Department."

"Oh my god, is she okay?"

"I have a woman here, mid-sixties, nicely dressed and appears lost."

"Where are you?"

"Rhode Island Hospital."

"Where?"

"Rhode Island Hospital."

"Is her name Ruth?"

I looked at the woman, who was gone again.

"Ruth!"

She didn't budge, or respond.

"I don't know, she has no ID, but is wearing a black velvet coat with fur trim on the collar."

"That's her, thank you so much, we'll be there as soon as we can, it's an hour drive from Massachusetts."

"Massachusetts?"

"She likes busses."

An hour later Ruth was reunited with her daughter, son-in-law, five of six kids and a few other people. She had been missing for sixteen hours. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimers just this year. I have no idea what posessed me to start running off numbers, just got lucky I think. I figured something in her mind might click.

I've done a lot of things over the last twenty years, but that call was one of the most gratifying moments of my career. The family treated me like a hero, and asked again and again how I got her to come up with the phone number. Truth is, I just got lucky.

A woman suffering from dementia was found dead in a ditch in Newport last week. She wandered off. Before she was found I heard a press release saying she liked to sit on public benches. I looked, but never saw her.

http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/02/autopsy-missing.html

5 Comments

  • Bob Lincoln says:

    Things like this are a gift.  I've never been able to come up with clues like this spontaneously.  I think it's an ability that you are born with.  Keep fighting the good fight, Mike.

  • RepealItAll'13 says:

    I found a paycheck from a temp agency once in Kennedy Plaza, and called 411 with the address and got connected to the owner- from the response when I told them I found that $110 check, you'd think they'd won Powerball. I dropped the check in the mail with no return address. The most gratifying deeds are the ones we perform because it's the right thing to do, and we gave a damn to go the extra step. Good job, Mike- I wish small kindnesses like yours were reported more often then the often unsubstantiated horror stories written about EMS personnel.

  • Pat Blackman/Grandma Muggle says:

    Good job buddy.  I am proud of you.  That, of course, is nothing new.  :-)

  • hilinda says:

    You, my friend, are brilliant.
    I've met one other person who could come up with something like that on the fly. A gift. Truly.

  • Jean says:

    You will always be an angel to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Michael Morse

JEMS Talk: Google Hangout

Recent Posts
Alive and Well November 28, 2014
ferguson Us and them November 26, 2014
dementia Missing November 24, 2014
Dead Guy November 22, 2014
Comments
Michael Morse
Us and them
Thank you for stopping by and commenting FL-EMT-RJ, frustrating times for sure.
2014-11-28 13:44:55
FL-EMT-RJ
Us and them
Your first paragraph said it all to me because i remember being the big black guy with a local volunteer fire department who used to respond POV to medicals in the projects. When i first started i was refered to as the "token nigger the fire department took on because they had to" i used…
2014-11-28 00:10:40
Lt. JJ
Respect in Ferguson and everywhere else
Well said RJ!
2014-11-26 22:59:48
EMT RJ-FL
Respect in Ferguson and everywhere else
The events in Ferguson ( in my view as a black american) brings tears to my eyes because it outlines the basic problem in america when it comes to race relations. If the officer had been black and the circumstances the same, this would not be a story BUT when a group of blacks kidnap,…
2014-11-26 17:39:14
greg
The Heart of a Stranger
"Thanks Mike. I just walked my kids to the school bus. We stood in the cold for 10 minutes. Then I had to drive to the school because my son forgot his shoes. When he called and said, "Dad can you bring my shoes to school?" I had to ask which pair from the pile…
2014-11-21 16:03:20

Uniform Stories

Visit Uniform Stories

Responding $3.99

wordpress visitor counter
February 2012
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
272829  

FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

LATEST EMS NEWS

HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS