The EMS calls we can't shake

A boy sat on the curb outside, motionless; I walked past him and into his house to find his grandfather, dead.


By Michael Morse

It didn‘t take long for the first call of the day; the tones went off 10 minutes after we relieved the night crew.

“Rescue 1 and Engine 13 respond to New York Avenue for a report of a man not breathing.”

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“Rescue 1 on the way.”

We turned the corner and approached a single-family home. A boy sat on the curb outside, motionless. I walked past him and into his house to find his grandfather, dead in bed.

“Rescue 1 to fire alarm, DOA, time check.”

“0722 Rescue 1.”

“Roger, have a police sergeant respond.”

“At 0723 hours.”

“Where is everyone?” I asked myself and my partner, Brian.

“Looks like there‘s nobody home but that kid.”

“Damn.” The morning‘s events quickly came into focus: single mom off to work, her dad responsible for getting her son off to school only this morning everything changed.

The boy was still sitting on the curb, only now I saw more than just a kid waiting for the bus. He had found his grandfather dead, and tried to wake him, and ended up calling 911. I sat next to him on the curb and waited for the police to come.

“You okay?”

“He‘s dead, isn‘t he?”

“Yes.”

“I knew it.”

He hugged his knees then, and stared at the pavement at our feet. For a moment the urge to wrap my arm around him and bring him close was overwhelming. I wish I had.

I didn‘t. Instead, I sat next to him, on the curb, and the moment passed. His school bus drove past us; a man in uniform and a boy in pajamas staring at the ground, both silent, lost in our thoughts.

A car sped toward us, then stopped in front of the house The driver‘s door flew open, and my little friend jumped to his feet, ran to his mother and wrapped his arms around her waist. He cried then, like only a 7/year-old child can, without reservation, without guile, without anything but pure grief.

The two of them walked into the house together. A few minutes later, I followed them in, and waited for the police to come to help them with the arrangements. The boy‘s mother remained strong, and comforted her child. Her own father lie dead in the bedroom, his job done, and judging by the way mother and son handled things, done well.

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