Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

This first day of April starts off a little cloudy, but the clouds should more or less dissipate this morning. We along the coast can expect temperatures probably in the 40s, but being in the 50s in some places isn’t out of the question. Inland, which will have more sunshine today, will get into 50s and some 60s aren’t out of the question. We will be having off and onshowers for the next several days, but the weekend might be OK after some early Saturday morning showers.

Today is April Fools’ Day. I’ve been out of the loop for a goodly number of years now, so I’m not sure just how important, perhaps fun-filled would be more appropriate, this day remains. When I was a youngster. . .gosh, I’m still a youngster. . .the pranks were numerous. On the seemingly rare occasion when we actually could catch someone off guard, we all laughed hilariously. Shucks, we roared anyway. More often than not, the “victim” of any prank would quickly recover and join in.

I spent part of my waking moment last night . . . you see, as we reach a certain age, we ‘sometimes’ wake during the night for an important little trip . . . trying to remember a memorable moment when one of my tricks was better than most. None came to mind. I’d be surprised, though, if I learned I had a very boring life and did nothing. At least you don’t have to be bored today with yet another story of my past. Well, perhaps one and that will following in a moment.

I’d also be somewhat surprised if school kids just about everywhere didn’t try to find some unsuspecting teacher on whom to play a little joke. And I’d be just as surprised if teachers everywhere didn’t go along with most of the “original” jokes being played on them. Most of the April Fools’ Day jokes are harmless and as long as that’s the way they remain, just about everyone will continue to look for that golden opportunity to catch a loved one, a friend, or a colleague just a little off guard.

There’s going to be a joke played on me this morning. A plumber, who I’ve used for years because of his good work and fairness, is coming to fix a leaking faucet for me. There was a time when I’d fix it myself, but bending around under the kitchen sink is no longer in the range of my activities, so I hire Steve to come and fix it for me.

This is the third time that faucet has leaked so Gator Wife and I have determined that the time to replace it has come. There’s just something about going to a dark kitchen for a drink of water as part of that occasional nightly wake up and stepping in a puddle of cold water that’s not nice. So Steve will be here this morning to see what he needs for a faucet, get us a new one, and return later to put it in place. The joke will come when I get the bill.

When we bought the faucet many years ago, we didn’t buy the best, and that’s usually always a mistake. One ends up paying a lot more in the long run for replacements, repairs, etc. We’ll be urging Steve to get us one that will last ‘forever’ and I think I’ll probably not be laughing at this April Fools’ joke.

And now my little story from out of the past. A story in the news this morning says that Cape Elizabeth is close to joining a number of communities around the state that have consolidated emergency dispatch services. Cape Elizabeth is considering joining with Portland and South Portland for the combined service. I have very mixed emotions about this type of consolidation as I need more proof that the cost savings is worth the life saving.

Back in 2001 I had a serious life threatening event. Doctors called it a Triple-A, a burst abdominal aortic artery. Most people bleed to death with this incident. My wife immediately called 911 and, because the person answering knew exactly without having to look it up somewhere, where my address was located, Rescue was dispatched while she was still on the phone. Of course neither GW nor the dispatcher knew I was bleeding to death, but the Rescue unit arrived almost before GW had hung up. Now I don’t remember anything that went on so there’s always the possibility the dispatcher kept GW on the phone until Rescue arrived.

The Rescue young men and woman were excellent recognizing immediately the seriousness of the situation and had me on the way to the hospital probably within a few minutes of the event. Since I’m here writing this, you know the eventual outcome. I believe I was lucky. I had a wife who didn’t hesitate a moment, a dispatcher who didn’t hesitate a moment, and a Rescue crew who were outstanding. I also got lucky at the hospital, too, as a vascular surgeon was coincidently arriving at the same time.

Since all the consolidation began to be discussed to save money, I’ve wondered if I’d still be here if our town had to rely on people not as familiar with the town to get the right unit here on time. I recognize that modern technology can not only pinpoint my address on a map but also can show a picture of the area and even the house, but getting to those takes moments of time and then deciding which unit to respond takes another moment. My town’s dispatcher knew from the call and had the emergency team on the way in less than 30 seconds of the call.

Knowing what happened on the operating table that fateful morning causes me to ask, “Would I still be here if I had had to wait those extra moments?” We’ll never know, but it causes me to wonder if consolidation for money is really a good idea.


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