Monday, January 02, 2012

Lessons Learned From A Tragedy

We have lived in a duplex for thirteen years with the same people residing behind us. We have the front yard and they have access to the basement and backyard. Ours is the original house and they have the add-on apartment.

Because the utilities are all one location the landlord pays these. Our bathroom is hooked up on one circuit with their bedroom. Our back porch uses their walkway, but we have our own main walkway.

Just a week ago there was a loud boom from there and I was not sure if it was in the area near their front door or the basement below. I ran out front with my flashlight and looked in the back walkway and heard their Niece say something about being blue. Her Uncle who was staying back there during the Holidays was choking.

Evidently he collapsed on the ground so at this point you cannot do the Heimlich maneuver. I have on my refrigerator an Emergency first aid reference guide with diagrams. I yelled out for her to call 911 and then heard her passing on the info from the dispatch to her grandfather, my neighbor.

I let the fire department in the gate and was getting information after awhile from one of them at the gate who was there with the Niece. I knew not to move someone once they are in a position, which he did note and he said they were working on him.

When they wheeled him out one of the paramedics was pumping his chest and there was a bag attached to his mouth. They did get the piece of meat from the burrito he was eating out but his heart gave out and he flatlined an hour later at the Hospital.

From what I learned he was walking out of the kitchen eating and drinking water. According to the Coroner there were no drugs in his system. This was asked as he was a recovering drug addict and on the wait list for a bed at a sober living home. This was my neighbor's son, her oldest and died at age 53.

He had lived for a few years with a girl in the neighborhood and she told the family that he wanted to be cremated. This was news to the family as he had never expressed this and they have a family plot. Currently they are still trying to decide what to do with his body one week later.

I shared this information with my kids Father, who is my ex husband and let him know my wishes have always been to be cremated. My Grandmother, Grandfather and Father were all cremated in New Jersey.

I also showed him where I keep my Life Insurance policies and where the phone number on the folder is to my Brother in New Jersey. As of this date I do not have a will because there needs to be a Special Needs Trust and a Guardian chosen for my two teen sons that are both on the autism spectrum.

It is really important to know what to do in an emergency. I let my son and his Dad know that I need my asthma spray when I am gasping for air, as that clears my airways.

Please watch over people who are walking and eating in your home. Make sure you have emergency instructions and your address listed on your refrigerator. In times that we panic we might not recall our address or it could be someone not familiar with it who is making the call.

Call 911 immediately to get the help instantly and the paramedics will be there faster. Make a plan - buy life insurance, make a will and let others know where these important papers are and let your friends and family members know whether you want to be cremated and where those ashes are to be held or disposed of or where you would like to be buried and what type of funeral, etc.

Take charge now at this early start of a New Year.