Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Paris Footnote: First Responders

Another Paris footnote: we were at l’église Saint-Eustache the  other night, settling in for a Handel Messiah when a brace of four chairs just next to us began to lean back as if it intended to tumble over.  On closer scrutiny, it appears that the man at the end of the row had fallen victim to some sort of affliction and had collapsed into his chair, as if to take all the furniture down with him.  Several people moved in to prop the chairs up; a couple of others lifted him out of the seat and laid him on the floor (stone cathedral: must have been cold).  One woman knelt beside him and seemed to do some nurse-like things; checked his breathing, loosened his shirt. Another--I gather his companion--seemed to talk with him, but quietly so no strangers could hear.  After three or four minutes someone took out a cell phone and called for emergency aid--he seemed to be describing symptoms.    Another ten minutes and some first responders appeared on the scene, dressed in black polo shirts and slacks.  I think they must also have worn rubber soled shoes; they were so quiet you didn't know they were there until they were there.   I think there were four; one or two had small shoulder bags.  After  exchanging words with the two women an (I think) the victim, one of the men in black emerged from the shadows with a kind of wheely-chair. Two of them lifted him into it, and they disappeared again into the  shadows. The companion made as if to follow after although she set off in the wrong direction; somebody steered her straight, and with word of thanks, she followed after.

And after  few more minutes, the concert began.

The thing is--it was all so quiet, both the crisis moment itself and the response. Well, you say, this was, after all. a church.  Yes, maybe.  And I admit, I can't remember being that close to any such event in America.   But my instincts tell me that we'd do it with a lot more racket.  Particularly the first responders.  I have the vision of them arriving in America with the clatter of footsteps, with an array of hardware, perhaps even the occasional Kevlar vest.   Do I have this wrong?

Afterthought:  Oddly enough, no doctor volunteered from the audience.   I just now remember what my friend Linda used to say about St. Johns Smith Square in London. She said if you shouted "is here a doctor in the hour?"  you might not get a response.  But if you said "is there a licensed professional social worker?"  you'd get a stampede.

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

No. There were EMS personnel in Madison Square Park (the Museum of Math side) last night, tending to a man whose results were, I suspect, less positive than those of your event. Multiple jackets, much equipment (which was needed), no one trying to be quiet.