Hi. I posted the following on Quora.com, and someone there suggested I should post it here:
Last night, as I was walking home from the subway, I saw a car almost crash into a guy on a bike. The cyclist braked fast and flipped over his handlebars, crashing to the pavement, face first. I ran to him to see if he was okay. He was conscious but his face was bloody. He was moaning.
The driver fled. I didn't think to get his license number.
I helped the cyclist to the sidewalk. He was moaning and holding his mouth. Blood was dripping down his chin, onto his shirt. No one else was around. I tried to calm him while I called 911. After telling the dispatcher where I was and what happened, I helped the guy sit and retrieved his bike from the street. He was dazed and barely spoke English. He was clearly in pain and scared. I couldn't tell how badly he was injured.
This was just half a block from my apartment. So I called my wife, Lisa, told her what happened, and asked her to come down and sit with the guy while I stood in the street to flag down the ambulance.
The I saw a doorman sitting inside the nearest building, watching us. I motioned for him to come outside. Reluctantly, he did it. I asked if he'd watch the guy while until Lisa got there. I wanted to stand further out in the street so the ambulance could see me, but also didn't want to leave the injured guy alone. The doorman was really irritable and suspicious:
"This guy was in an accident."
"Are you the one who hit him?"
But eventually he agreed to stay by the cyclist. Later, after Lisa arrived, he softened and told me I was a good guy, and that most people wouldn't have given a shit. "Like you," I thought.
We waited and waited, but the ambulance didn't show up. When I'd first called, I said I was on Lincoln Place, between Washington and Underhill, and the dispatcher kept saying, "You're on Washington?" I kept telling her, "No. Lincoln Place between Washington and Underhill. I'm not on the corner. It's a long block, and I'm in the middle. But I'm between those two streets."
"So you're on Washington, between... ?"
"No! I'm on Lincoln Place, between Washington and Underhill. I'm not on Washington. I'm on Lincoln!"
After about 15 minutes passed with no sign of an ambulance, I called 911 again. They told me they'd sent the ambulance to the corner of Lincoln Place and Underhill.
I said, "No! Lincoln Place between Washington and Underhill! If they'd waited at the corner -- which is not where I said I was -- why didn't they call me when they got there and didn't see me?"
The dispatcher said they'd tried, but they just got my voicemail. Except I'd been holding my phone the whole time, I had no voicemail, and I had no notification that I'd missed a call.
Do 911 people tell lies?
They said they'd send the ambulance to me, but after another 15 minutes, it still hadn't come.
Meanwhile, the injured guy, still holding his mouth and seeming to be in shock, was scared. He said he had no money and he was worried that the police were coming. I couldn't get him to understand that I hadn't called the police. I kept saying, "ambulance ... doctor ..." He was worried people would say the accident was his fault. I tried to explain I'd seen the accident, and that I'd say it wasn't his fault.
What worried me is that he was neither docile nor insisting he was okay and leaving. He would say, "No ... no ambulance ... not my fault ... no money ..." but then he's stay on the sidewalk, holding his face and moaning. My assurances didn't seem to get through to him.
Then, after we'd waited about 40 minutes, he thanked me and left. What could I do? He's a grownup. Had an ambulance come in a timely manner, he would have gotten some help.
Lisa had discovered that he was a delivery guy for a local restaurant. When we got inside, I called them and told them what happened. They said they'd call me back. They didn't.
I hope I never need emergency services. I thought I was living in NYC in 2013; not NYC in 1980.