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July 28, 2012

As Time Goes By: There's no fun in falling, but the rewards for helping are great


Daily Star

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There I was sitting on my throne, king of all I survey. Outside, the early birds (the ones that always get the worm) were chirping, heralding another perfect sun-shiny day in the great Northeast.

My throne (nee stand-alone commode) is adjacent to my bed and as I started to stand I felt very strange. I thought I was floating on air. With my bulk I knew in an instant that this was impossible, so I did what many senior citizens do: I fell down.

I fell face forward and was able to break my fall with my hands on the portable end table by my bed. My knees landed on the carpet next to my bed and from the pain I knew I had two large rug burns.

There I was in a position of a deep knee squat, which I haven't done in years, and with no strength to lift myself up. With all the noise Diane woke up and her first words were "Did you hit your head?"

Everybody always gets concerned about hitting my head. But, like a men's room urinal, it hasn't been hit in years. There is nothing in my head to be concerned about _ the echo however, can be, on occasion, lovely to hear.

There I was as helpless as a Christmas goose unable to move because on landing I had exceeded the elasticity of my knee ligaments. Diane asked me "Do you think you can stand up?" I laughed through my tears. "Call 911," I said.

With all our efforts I finally got my legs out in front of me and there I sat.

In a short while the Worcester EMT crew arrived. Now when you dial 911 you are never sure of what you are going to get. All you know is that they are very well-trained and you can trust your life to them.

I watched as what appeared to be the backfield of the NY Giants came through our patio door.

Four guys looking like the kind you would want to go down a dark alley with said they were going to take care of me, and I knew in an instant that I was going to be helped. I sat back and let them do their jobs.

After taking my "vitals," one member came back with a bright orange tarp with handholds along the sides. They called it "Shamoo." (No, I don't know why they called it that but with your life in their hands it is wise to do nothing to get them ticked off else you'll find yourself running after the ambulance rather than riding in it.)

By rolling me from side to side they slid the Shamoo under me and, on the count of three, I was gently lifted off from the floor into a reclining chair.

Shades of a "Hoyer Lift," they made it look easy. These were Worcester boys (made in America) _ and they can do anything.

There was some talk about taking me to Bassett to address two large rug burns on my knees. Since they refused to let me ring the bell and press the siren button on the ride to the hospital, I decided not to go.

I gave them an autographed copy of my book, and told them that in a hundred years it will be worth a pile of money on the "Antiques Roadshow." I can hear them now saying in an incredulous voice: "You have an autographed first edition copy of the book by Geerken, 'Who Could Ask for Anything More?' Do you know what that is worth?"

There would suddenly be a knot of people around the group having The Book appraised. It's funny how these "groups" always know that something dramatic is going to happen and by dramatic, I include forgeries as well as announcements of great wealth to the shouts of joy and festivity generated by the intoxicating smell of piles of moldering money.

Be that what it may for now the book is only worth $20 plus $5 shipping and the EMT squad will have to be content with that.

This wasn't my first ride with the Worcester EMT squad. More than 20 years ago I was coming back from Oneonta when I started getting chest pains _ all the classic pains of a heart attack including the elephant standing on my chest.

On that day, Sidney Chase was the EMT person in charge and had the defibrillator ready. This was the first time I had ever considered that I could possibly die. In the crap-shoot of life I lived. Thanks, Sid.

There is a crisis that the EMT folk are facing today and that is the dwindling number of people who are willing to become EMTs. It is not an easy task to be someone who is often the first responder to an accident. The rewards are great, not in monetary terms, but in the knowledge that you have done something wonderful for another human being.

Somehow a function of Americana that once had a waiting line to serve is now almost desperate for people to serve.

So, if you want to be part of a team, get in touch with your local emergency squad to get the inside information. Sign up now and you may be in a position to be called to help an old man stand up after falling down. You might even be lucky and find out that it's me who needs your help.

Thrills!

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by e-mail at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.