This all happened to me today, and most of it sucked. There is no attempt at comedy here.
I took my girlfriend’s parents’ dogs for a walk on Primrose Hill this afternoon. It was crisp and sunny, a beautiful day, and even my stinking cold didn’t seem so bad. We kept to the quiet, muddy north-west corner of the park where only dog-walkers care to tread.
I encountered two old ladies and their dogs, a little black pug and a terrier. The terrier and one of my dogs had a minor dispute over a tennis ball while I exchanged a few friendly words with the old ladies. We stuck to the usual enquiries about the names, ages and temperaments of the dogs. Then we parted company.
As they walked off, a thought came to me: “One of those women is going to collapse, and I’m going to run over there and phone for an ambulance.”
Then I thought “What a horrible thing to think.” Then, ten seconds later, one of the women collapsed, and I ran through the mud towards her.
She was conscious but unresponsive, making gargling sounds as she tried to breath, and had blood bubbles forming in her mouth. Her eyes were glazed, and seemed to be looking ever further into the distance.
I called 999. I talked to the emergency operator, and discovered it’s difficult to describe your location when your location is a muddy and remote patch of a large park. I was glad I had a smart phone, which told me the name of the nearest street entrance.
Ambulance duly dispatched, the operator told me to stay with the patient, and to send someone to stand near the entrance to the park to meet the paramedics.
I asked a bloke walking past to do exactly that, but he mumbled something under his breath, shrugged and carried on walking. I didn’t have the presence of mind to swear at him.
The old lady’s friend was in deep shock, but she managed to get her act together enough to walk up to the park entrance and guide the paramedics in.
While I waited, I did everything I could to stop this apparently dying woman from choking on her own blood and mucous while trying to keep four dogs in eyesight and under control.
The paramedics arrived and took control. They thanked me for my help, but I hadn’t done anything at all beyond making a phone call. And it occurred to me I almost certainly earn more money than those paramedics, and I felt ashamed.
And then I leashed the dogs and walked off. I have no sense of closure; I don’t know if she lived or died. Was it a heart attack or a stroke? Surely people suffering heart attacks or strokes don’t cough up blood? (On reflection, she probably suffered a stroke and bit her tongue as she fell.)
And did I really have a premonition of it happening? Maybe I caused it to happen just by imagining the possibility. I’d like to think I’m experiencing a post-traumatic cognitive anomaly, but who the fuck knows. I just hope the woman’s OK.