Whenever I'm home working on the computer or just watching TV I usually have one earphone in my ear and I'm listening to fire dispatches from around Orange County. I've been interested in public service radio broadcasts since I was a teenager and have always been the type that when I hear a siren I want to know where it's going and why. Thanks to this internet site nearly every Orange County fire dispatch can be heard on your computer (you can't hear police dispatches in Orange County anymore since they're all encrypted).
A lot of the calls are routine medical aids, traffic accidents, food-on-the-stove kitchen fires and the like. Occasionally something more serious or spectacular happens and I'm one of the first to hear it, such as the Knott's Berry Farm roller coaster accident in October of 2010 or the time two people decided to lay down on the train tracks almost within sight of my house and were killed by a Metrolink train. I listened to both of those situations unfold on the radio (and actually went to the scene of the train crash) and had stories on HolyCoast.com before the local newspaper did.
Every now and then you hear something that's kind of disturbing. During the latter stages of the Super Bowl yesterday I heard a dispatch for a cardiac arrest. I don't remember now which agency had the call, and frankly cardiac arrest calls are not that uncommon, but this one stuck out. It was reported to be a 65-year old man. His wife was being instructed in CPR by the dispatcher and she was the only other person in the home. Firefighters were told to enter the home without waiting for someone to answer the door because she wouldn't leave him.
It gave me kind of a sick feeling to think of that poor woman, all by herself, desperately trying to save her husband as she struggles during the several minutes it would take for the fire department to get there. That's a terribly sad scene.
I don't know what the outcome was. You don't usually hear on the radio how the calls turn out. If there's a chance they can save him they'll keep trying until they get to the hospital. I can only hope for the best.
And there is hope. Earlier in the day I heard another full arrest call at the finish line of the Huntington Beach marathon. It sounded like a runner who had managed to complete the course and then collapsed. I've checked the newspapers and there are no reports of fatalities from that race, so I'm hoping the medics were able to get him back. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
It's yet another reminder of the daily drama that goes on all around us that we often never see.