I'm really hoping that I can get a thank you to one of your dispatchers who assisted me last night with a call I made about an unconscious man on the sidewalk on Live Oak Street. Wish I knew her name, because she really helped me in ways that she might not have realized. And I would love for her to know how much I appreciate it. I was driving home from a work meeting at approximately 9:15 last night, April 5th. I turned onto Live Oak, which is a residential street, and after about a block or so, I noticed something large lying on the sidewalk and partially in the street. It was really dark on that block and I couldn't tell what it was, but it bothered me for a couple of more blocks, so I turned around and went back. And saw that it was an unconscious male. Like I mentioned, it was dark. I was alone on a residential street at a time when no one was out. I'm a very small sixty year old woman who doesn't put up with a lot of crap and can fend for myself. But w ouldn't be much of a match for a large man. I pulled my car as close to the man as I could get and asked him several times if he could hear me and if he needed help. He didn't respond, so I moved my car to a better lit portion of the street and called 911. Your dispatcher asked me some questions about the man that I couldn't answer because I was a little hesitant to get too close to him. I didn't know his situation, whether he was sick or hurt. Or drunk or high or possibly mentally ill and might react aggressively if I startled him or made him think I might be a threat instead of someone trying to help. I got physically attacked once by a mentally ill homeless man simply because he thought I was someone I wasn't. One minute he was sitting on the ground leaning against the side of a building. And before I even knew what was happening, he was up and punching and kicking me because he thought I was someone who had hurt him in the past. That's not an experience that you soon forget. I was feeling badly about my reluctance to get too close to him outside of my car, but I also had a feeling in my gut that told me to stay where I was. I'm a bit of a crime show junkie and sometimes allow that to make me a little more fearful than I maybe should be. I wanted to help the man, but I was not feeling comfortable at all with being alone in this situation. Your dispatcher was patient and not only understood and accepted how uncomfortable I was feeling, but explained to me how many things I was doing right about the situation instead of allowing me to feel that I wasn't doing enough. After she had all the information she needed, she transferred me to EMS dispatch.
Your dispatcher did an exceptional job. Not only in attempting to understand my own fears and reservations, whether they were rational or not, while still getting the information she needed, but in having enough knowledge and common sense, and maybe some really good training, to know that while I might have been perfectly safe approaching this man and trying to render aid; it also could have been a situation that went from zero to sixty before I even knew what hit me. This wasn't a situation where I witnessed an accident or a heart attack, or whatever. This was a lone woman, coming upon an unconscious man on a dark street. The other dispatcher apparently didn't understand the potential danger in that and actually talked me into doing something that not only my gut instinct was screaming at me not to do, but could have potentially gotten me hurt. It didn't, thank goodness. But, it could have. Good Samaritans get hurt all the time. They also get hurt when the situation isn't what it appears to be. As a friend in Oregon pointed out to me when I was telling her about finding this man on the sidewalk. She told me that just two weeks ago, in the city where she lives, that a Good Samaritan stopped to help an unconscious man on a sidewalk, just as I did. Except the man wasn't unconscious; he was part of a robbery/abduction scheme. Hearing that didn't ease my addled crime show junkie brain. It also won't stop me from trying to help people in need. But it did make me want to thank your dispatcher even more. Because she not only understood the potential danger that could have been there. She also understood and accepted the instincts I was having instead of trying to force me into a potentially bad situation. I think you are very fortunate to have this woman working for you. I think the residents of Austin are very fortunate. And I hope that you will please tell her how grateful I am for the job that she does every day. How very truly, sincer ely grateful I am.