"How could we have missed the house?"
"Dispatch said they don't have a porch light."
"Yeah, but do they have a driveway?"
It turned out that they didn't have a driveway. The ambulance crew and I were on the wrong side of the road at the wrong cluster of buildings. We did find the house after a few minutes of confusion, and I got to blaze a trail to the house with my 4x4. It appeared as though the house had been dropped by a twister into the middle of a field. A very muddy field.
There wasn't a porch light because there wasn't a porch to put it on. I'm not sure how they got to the house because there was no driveway or walk, and there was no mailbox, so I don't understand how the house existed at all.
That said, someone knew where this house was because they used it as a place to put all of their trash and crap.
Rather unfortunately, the resident of this mystery house had recently died and we were called. Muddy and confused, we found her sitting in a living room chair. Thanks to shows about hoarders, it is easy for me to give you a visual on this house. First, imagine a house on hoarders, and my work here is done.
Sadly, all of this stuff made resuscitation extremely difficult. And I love and hate to recount these stories because I always feel horrible and heartless afterwards, but I also recognize that you need (want) to know.
We had to move furniture and trash and all sorts of stuff to get her on the floor to start resuscitation.
Someone on scene tried to move the coffee table. Pulling it backwards, it hung up on something and stopped short. He fell forward onto it and its feeble legs gave way. He then started to tumble onto the patient. He caught himself, but not before all of the contents of the table poured onto the patient.
I witnessed all of this and had one of those dreaded moments where I was almost caught in the giggle loop. If I had made eye contact with anyone or stopped one millisecond to take this all in, I probably would have been fired. Despite the seriousness of the situation, this struck me has hilarious. It is probably lost in translation.
Most importantly, if you're unaware of the giggle loop, I'm sure you've been in it. But to be sure, here's a video for you.
There are two lessons here. First is to never make eye contact with colleagues when something silly happens. It is a sure step toward the giggle loop, and nobody wants that.
Secondly, location matters. Timing can sometimes really make a significant difference in this business. Cities like Seattle have excellent response times because the city is well organized and homes and streets are clearly marked.
When we are dispatched to a house that barely exists it is frustrating to say the least. We want to find you and sometimes we need a little help. Numbered mailboxes, houses, paved driveways all help. Sending someone out to greet us is even better. If they are shining a flashlight at us it is ideal. Just a little PSA from your local friendly paramedic whom sometimes gets the giggles at inappropriate times. Just like everybody else.