It Could Have Been Much, Much Worse!

Today’s post comes from Occasional Caroline.

My mother lives in South St. Paul, but goes to church about 25 miles away, in Hudson Wisconsin. The church has formed the “Driving Miss Daisy” ministry to take my mom and her friend, Dorothy (both in their 90s) to and from church on Sunday mornings. I have the “bring them home” shift every first and third week. This past Sunday, a new volunteer had been drafted to bring them home because the regularly scheduled driver has left the church; so this was Jane’s first time. She dropped Dorothy off and took Mom home. She helped her to the door, but when they opened it, a strong gas smell wafted out. Mom hurried in to find her husband and get him outside. He has completely lost his sense of smell, so resisted leaving the house, thinking she was over reacting. Jane discovered that one of the stove burner knobs was on with no flame. She turned it off, got everyone outside and called 911 (I’m not positive that was the exact order of events). Anyway, the fire fighters arrived, checked the house for any other gas sources, opened all the windows and allowed them to go back in.  And all is well. Thank goodness for Jane; what a dramatic start to a volunteer gig! Note: Mom’s husband, still unable to smell anything, starts closing windows to keep Sunday’s cool, fresh air from coming in! 

Have you ever had to call 911?

52 thoughts on “It Could Have Been Much, Much Worse!”

  1. with uber needing some positive press now may be a good time to inquire about their free ride to church for anyone over 80
    if they hear about it it may come
    that or call lyft and tell them maybe it was them
    one of them ought to offer this service


  2. Oh man, Caroline, that’s sounds like a scary ordeal. Glad it had a happy ending.

    I would most definitely have called 911 when I fell in the bathroom in 2012. However, as I couldn’t get up, and couldn’t reach the phone, I didn’t. That’s when I came to realize how vulnerable people who live alone really can be. (To clarify, I don’t live alone, and so I was rescued eventually by husband when he awoke.) I recall at the time recommending to Steve that he get one of those personal alarms that you wear. He assured me that he was very steady on his feet, so I’m pretty sure he never did. I’m glad to know he now lives in a place where there are other people around – even if he isn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, I don’t carry a personal alarm. I don’t fall (although I did recently have a spectacular fall caused by unusual circumstances).

      My current home is in a “retirement community” (meaning I’m the youngest male here living among about 200 senior citizens. There is an odd little string coming out of the wall in my bedroom, and another little string in the bathroom wall. They turn out to be part of an alarm system. If I fall and can’t get to a phone, I can slither along the floor and pull one of those strings. Help will come.


  3. We had one emergency that required a panicked call for help. My erstwife decided to cook a whole turkey in our backyard grill. The grill managed to set itself on fire. We were enjoying a cocktail hour when we heard a weird howling just behind the house. The grill was ablaze, its hose swinging around shooting out flames in random directions. The fire was hot enough to cause vibrations that could be heard a block away. Time to call the fire department!

    We were acutely embarrassed when four huge guys in yellow rainsuits showed up carrying what looked like medieval weapons. The fire guys said they were trainees and coming to our place was more diverting than sitting around the station cheating each other at card games. They sprayed chemicals all over our blazing grill.

    One guy was armed with a sort of battle axe fixed to a pole about twelve feet long. He delicately reached out with that thing to lift the lid of the grill. “Ma’am,” he said, “your turkey is coming along real good.”

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    I have called 911, but only on the road after an accident when we were hit by the TruGreen truck last summer when the driver was texting. Several years earlier I called it for what appeared to be a jumper walking in traffic the wrong way on the Ford Parkway bridge. He was weaving through the cars, but in traffic it was difficult to tell if he was drunk–or something. Clearly his mood was altered. He brought traffic to a halt. Then he headed for the side rail and leaned over to look at the river. I slowed with traffic, called 911 with a description of the man, then had to move on with the flow, so I do not know what happened after that.

    I was in Iowa over the weekend, looking at the results of a drought there. As I left yesterday afternoon there was thunder rumbling and big drops falling, so they were hopeful that the drought was ending.

    This trip was lovely for me. My sister and her daughter and families are trying multi-generational living. My great nephew is 2 1/2 years old, verbal, and a real love. He is now calling me “Auntie Grammie” because I resemble what he thinks of as a Grandmother, but he knows I am his mother’s aunt.

    When I left the room he would cry, yelling, “Where’s Auntie Grammie? I love her.” Now if that doesn’t boost your self-esteem, nothing will. Kind of the opposite of a 911 call.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Once my house was rocked by an explosion from somewhere close. When I got to the street I could see that a house had blown up. Its roof was sitting on the foundation and there was no trace of the home that had held that roof up.

    A man had been rehabbing his kitchen. He installed his gas stove, then headed home Friday afternoon, leaving the place closed up. There was apparently a small gas leak. He showed up Monday morning to resume the project, a lit cigar in his mouth. The home exploded when he opened the door. The blast blew him backward into his neighbor’s lawn. A young woman saw him rolling in the grass on fire. She was able to save him and call for help.


  6. an old lady goes to the doctor and says, “I have this problem with frequent gas.”

    She continues “Fortunately, the farts never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I’ve farted at least 10 times since I’ve been here, and I bet you didn’t even notice!”

    The doctor says, “I see. Take these pills and come back next week.”

    The next week the old lady returns. “Doctor,” she says, “I don’t know what the hell you gave me, but now my silent farts stink like the dickens.”

    The doctor says, “Good! Now that we’ve cleared up your sinuses, let’s work on your hearing.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lots of people came to help. I was hampered by the fact that I had my youngest in the bathtub at the time (obviously this was many years ago) and didn’t want to leave her for long – or bring her outside.


  7. I was driving to an appointment outside of Tracy, way north of St. Paul, not quite out in the country. Stopped – sort of – at a stop sign and looked right, was looking left as I started to roll forward. The car zooming in from the left veered sharply to avoid me, skidded across the highway and rolled, ending upside down in the ditch. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, but the guy in the next car behind her pulled over and called 9-1-1. By the time they got there, she had managed to open her door and get out, walking around in a daze. Wow, big lesson for me – to fully stop at those stop signs, and for her – she was going too fast for that county road.


  8. Once I melted butter in the micowave and accidently put the timer on for 30 minutes, not 30 seconds. I, of course, forgot about it, only to find the butter burning merrily in the microwave. It was at a time when the microwave vented directly into the attic. I was afraid sparks would make the attic insulation smolder, so we called the Fire Department and they sent their shortest, thinnest fireman to go up into the attic and check. Everything was ok. Now the microwave has a charcoal filter and vents into the kitchen.


  9. I probably mentioned this one before. I came home from high school to find my mother slumped in a chair looking dazed. The floors and carpets were filled with fresh mud.

    She had been running her ancient dishwasher when she noticed smoke curling out of the machine. She shut it off, opened the washer door and opened windows to get rid of the smoke. Then she called the Ames fire department and asked them to “send out a man to check my machine.” The fire dispatcher declared in a John Wayne voice, “Lady, WE ONLY COME ONE WAY!” Now she was embarrassed about not having a big enough emergency, so Mom started up the dishwasher again, shut its door and shut the windows so some smoke could build up.

    It was March, which in Iowa is the peak of mud season. True to their word, the fire truck arrived with a full gang or fighters. The firemen came storming in with picks and axes filling the house with mud.


      1. Bill, I think she was doing what she thought she was “supposed to do” in the face of an emergency. She did not handle such moments gracefully. About a year after the burning washing machine she smelled gas in the basement. She called the gas company . . . on a Sunday. That office had just installed a phone system with a taped message, something new to my mother. Mom kept trying to talk to the person on the end of the line. About the third time I voice told her that this was just a tape, her voice got tight and she said, “I don’t think you understand. I HAVE GAS IN MY BASEMENT!!”

        Liked by 1 person

    1. 50 years ago there was the ‘Rural Rochester Fire Department’. I believe it was a volunteer group.
      People joked there could be smoke pouring into the sky from a fire and this crew would still be going down the wrong road.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Twice. Both times for elderly women who had fallen. Once at the new CVS in Richfield I was pulling into a parking spot and looked over and saw the woman trip on the top step and fall. The second was in my front yard. I was cutting the grass turned the corner and the woman that I had seen crossing the street a moment before had clearly tripped on the unfinished driveway that the city was putting in and fallen. Lot of blood for both ..
    called 911 each time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. And I should probably mention the time that Child and her friend from down the street called 911 from the upstairs phone while I was downstairs. Then of course I had to explain to 911 that we didn’t have an emergency and then I had to set consequences for not only my child but a child who wasn’t mine.


      1. She was four. Friend was six. Their consequence was to clean the bathroom really well. I made the friend do the toilet since she was the instigator.


  12. Never have had to. The story about the gas reminds me of a somewhat similar experience. And elderly friend lived in her home with a grown daughter and an ancient, incontinent cat. It was difficult to visit because of the smell of which the humans were completely unaware as each woman had lost all olfactory sense. We tried mightily to persuade them to have mercy on the animal and have it put to sleep. They would have none of that. Then came the gas leak which caused an explosion that knocked the house off it’s foundation effectively destroying the structure. There was no fire and thankfully no human was at home. The cat survived the blast.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. OC, glad mom was OK. My dad used to drive the shuttle bus for our church. I think once / month was his turn as I had to finish chores and milking so he could go drive.

    I’ve called 911 a few times. Twice for daughter when she was having relatively ‘minor’ issues. Once she fainted and we didn’t know why and, if I remember right, once she had an asthma attack.

    I’ve called from the college when a student fell off the choir risers. Not high, but we thought she hit her head so better safe than sorry. Another person went out to wave the responders down and direct them to the right place. A fire truck arrived first and yelled at them to get out of the road, drove past and went to the main doors. Sigh.
    Although I suppose on a large campus, they have to start someplace…

    I frequently call the ‘non-emercency’ number for law enforcement for all sorts of various reasons. Odd vehicles, suspicious circumstances, ect…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. OT: a message I keep wanting to share with my baboon friends is how many ways Minnesota is wonderful. My daughter just encountered a new example in the form of bureaucratic stiffness at Michigan’s driver license office. She ran into long waits, a clerk with attitude and then unreasonable demands for paperwork. I won’t go into details.

    I’m not saying that Minnesota is perfect, but relatively speaking it is sweet in many unexpected ways. Government is clean, friendly and not unreasonable. I’m sure it helps that Minnesota government is better financed than its counterpart in Michigan . . . but having pleasant, well organized government might be one reason Minnesota is doing well.

    PS: Oregon’s bureaucracy is pretty nice to work with, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I’ve always wondered why 911 must always send a whole fire truck, the paramedics, and squad cars. Maybe it’s their way of encouraging us to only dial them for a true emergency? The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial greatly annoys me and has for years. Partly because wearing the gadget symbolizes being old and frail; and partly because the aged actor’s portraying falling down are impossibly poor actors. Certainly they can do better than this?!

    I’ve never dialed 911, but people around me have in response to two medical crises. Once after I fell off my roof while blowing leaves out of the gutter; the other in a store after having a grand mal seizure. I still didn’t need a fire truck, though.

    I do plan on calling 911 when the neighbors tree falls on the cottage because, to me, that’ll be a true emergency! My kids pushed me into relocating my bedroom from upstairs to downstairs because the large tree will fall directly on top of the bedroom. They also fussed about me falling on the stairs and not being able to get up.


    1. In our area, all firemen and police officers are trained, at minimum, as First Responders. And both carry defibrillators. (Our township just helped purchase a defibrillator for our sheriff deputies car).
      So whoever can get there first might be able to help, plus they can update the situation if necessary.
      When we called for daughters fainting, it was a Sheriff who arrive first; once the ambulance was there he just backed off and quietly left once he knew it was OK to leave.
      You can imagine, there might be hysterical family or a dangerous situation where law enforcement might need to be dealing with people to allow the medical people to work.
      It’s one of the reasons our son decided to go into law enforcement rather than medical; he didn’t want to be out there waiting while someone else secured the scene; he wanted to be there first. Must be part of my ‘hating-to-wait’ thing… And he’s trained as a paramedic which helped him get hired.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Oh, plus we joke, taking the fire trucks out on medical calls gets them a lot more use than waiting for fires; it helps justify their cost. 🙂
      Rochester Fire Dept covers the West half of our township and RFD announced this spring they were going to start responding to medical calls in the townships on a trial basis. We don’t get many fire calls in the first place, and only a handful of medicals. (There are small town volunteer departments covering the rest of the township).
      The occasional car crash gives all the emergency people something to do out here.
      Not a bad problem to have!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I loved the setup in Cornucopia, the little town near my cabin. They had a volunteer fire department. But those folks had jobs, and often when there was a fire they would be scattered all over the place doing their jobs. So the protocol was that if there were not enough volunteers, the fire guys would empty out the bars, as those folks obviously had nothing important to do!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. That may sound like a brilliant idea – until it’s your cabin that’s on fire and you have a bunch of more or less inebriated folks manning the fire hoses.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll post this as a reply as WordPress is being difficult today and keeps discarding my comment when I post it. We’ll see if this works.

        Nancy, my neighbor to the east, behind my house, called the fire department a year ago or so because the boiler in their basement was making loud noises and she didn’t know if it was dangerous or not. She herded the two small children and two dogs out of the house and waited on the sidewalk for the firemen to arrive. Since she had already called 911 when I walked over, I didn’t have to. Everyone has a cell phone now. As it turned out, there was nothing seriously wrong with the boiler, and no danger from gas, but the kids were treated to a tour of the fire truck and thought it was the coolest thing.

        I’ve been on the scene of a couple of car accidents, but I was never the one to make the call, because someone else had a cell phone and I didn’t.


    3. CB, the cynical part of me speculates that fire departments send out whole crews for tiny emergencies because they like their records to show they have been busy dealing with emergencies. That has to sound important when budgets are being debated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And I’m on the naive side of the scale. I assume they always send out everything because people are so flustered when they call nine-one-one that they probably don’t ask for all the Emergency Services they might need and better to be safe than sorry?


        1. I’m guessing there is an element of “be prepared” in there too.

          Not everybody can assess how big of an emergency they are having.

          Liked by 2 people

  16. I’ve had to call a couple of times, most recently for an out-of-control dog across the street. I couldn’t tell what was going on exactly, so I asked if they needed help.

    They said yes, so I called 911 and told dispatch as much as I could.

    This was in December and they asked me to wait outside until the officer showed up.

    By then the dog was confined, so I ran in and got a coat, told the officer what I knew when he got there, then went home. I saw the officer taking the dog away eventually

    The next day my neighbor thanked me and explained the dog just was not getting along with her older dog and she knew she was going to have to take him to the shelter eventually as he was attacking her when she tried to separate the dogs that afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

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