I have a lot to say about AWP: about how beautiful and colorful Los Angeles was, about how nice it was to catch up with old friends, and how much I got out of the conference. But something happened as I was heading to LAX (and back to my comfortable academic job in Pittsburgh) that I can’t stop thinking about. So I figured I’d share it first.
10:38AM in Los Angeles: [I dial 911 and explain the situation to the dispatcher, who then transfers me to the paramedics.]
Paramedic dispatcher: What’s your emergency and location?
Me: I’m at Ninth and Figueroa. There’s a man lying facedown on the sidewalk. [The man appeared to be in his late 30s. He was dark-skinned, maybe of Southeastern Asian descent. He had shoulder-length black curly hair and was wearing clean cargo pants, a clean t-shirt, and a pair of clean sneakers. Inexplicably, and maybe congruous to his situation, a pair of new-looking brown New Balance sneakers were scattered on the sidewalk a few feet from his head.]
Dispatcher: Is he in front of a specific building? Any specific landmarks?
Me: I’m at Ninth and Figueroa. He’s the guy lying facedown on the sidewalk.
Dispatcher: There are lots of people facedown on the sidewalk there.
Me: Um…not today.
Dispatcher: Did you talk to him?
Me: I asked if he was okay. He looked up at me and mumbled something. I didn’t really understand him. [Notably, he was lying on the sidewalk’s main thoroughfare, not the edges and corners where the city’s homeless sleep. We all had to step around him.]
Dispatcher: Is there any blood? Any visible sign of trauma or injury?
Me: I didn’t see any. He didn’t look very well. He seemed disoriented and out of it. When I was talking to him, he didn’t seem to register it.
Dispatcher: Well, what do exactly you want us to do here?
Me: I don’t know. The man’s clearly not okay. He’s lying facedown on the sidewalk and unresponsive.
Dispatcher: You said he talked to you.
Me: He just mumbled something. He didn’t seem very interested in talking to me.
Dispatcher: What exactly do you want us to do here?
Me: I don’t know. I guess I just figured I’d let you know. If you don’t want to help, I don’t know what to tell you.
Dispatcher: Thank you for your call.