Emergency Services, or not…

Today, I had my first encounter with calling 112 (the Dutch equivalent of 911). I was standing in the sun at Rotterdam Centraal, waiting for my tram when all of a sudden an older gentleman goes flying off the curb and onto the tram track. He landed on his arms, shoulder and face and there was quite a bit of blood right away. We got him back up off the track and while the other two bystanders were checking him out, I said I would run off to get help from the train station.

I ran inside to the info point, telling them what happened and asking them to call for an ambulance. In seriously bureacratic fashion, the woman says to me that I need to call 112 myself, they will respond much faster. I was like WTF?? So, I call 112 and get put through to a dispatcher. I tell her where we are, what happened and that this gentleman is bleeding from his head. She tells me to make sure that he doesn’t eat or drink anything and she will dispatch an ambulance with “spoed” (haste). I ask her how long she thinks this will take and she says that they will be there with spoed.

Okay, here’s where cultural understanding can be difficult. I assume that means an ambulance will be there within 5 minutes, since we are in the city center. Or not. In the 17 minutes it takes, a young man and I are busy asking questions of this gentleman (turns out he is 80, married an American and has lived there for 18 years) to make sure that he doesn’t fall over or pass out. When the ambulance shows up, the paramedics stroll along leisurely to us like it’s no big deal. I was expecting a little more urgency. After all, you don’t know how serious it could be.

Nah, they were like “we’ll clean you up, sir and you will be on your way in 15 minutes”. I walked with them to the ambulance, passing on all the information I had gathered and the paramedic was completely disinterested. So, there you have it. Emergency Response in The Netherlands. Literally focused on “Doe Normaal” (Act Normal).

Mental note to self: renew your first aid certification and knowledge because waiting for a response might be too long…

And then the rest of the afternoon sort of escalated from there. By the time I got home, it was to find a crisis for one of my employees – which is going to involve major beaucratic untangling. Right when I had finished putting that fire out, I got a text from an old crush telling me that she has tumors on her ovaries and in her abdominal cavity and it’s not looking so good.

Plus George fell down the stairs today and then he and Henry got into a terrible fight at dinner time and I yelled at him and sent him to Time Out. He’s now skulking around like he’s afraid – which is not good for his seizures.

Ironically enough, on my way home, I stopped at our little grocery store and was talking with the owner about how yesterday we had a friend down from Amsterdam (Marianne) and we spent the afternoon in the sun on the terrace, dogs and all. I was really learning how to relax on Sunday and not feel like it was a preparation day for Monday… To quote Alanis Morrissette “Isn’t it ironic?” 😉

I’ll try this all again tomorrow…big sigh.

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