How can that be possible

By Joe Rector

Believe it or not, I’ve calmed down quite a bit over the last few years. Before that, my temper or “righteous indignation” many times took over my mind and body and caused me to do or say some things of which I might not have been proud. Well, I have to admit an incident over the weekend led to that fury rearing its ugly head with full force.

Amy and I went to bed early last Friday after a long, busy, and tiring week. Three rounds of mowing leaves, making appointments, and taking part in other activities had taken their toll on us. I was in the middle of an unusually deep sleep when the phone yanked me from unconsciousness. Amy answered it, and from her side of the conversation, I could tell that something was seriously wrong. One of our good friends had fallen for the second time that day, and she had trouble expressing her thoughts at times. Her energy was depleted, and she lay in bed for the entire evening.

The woman on the phone was the best friend of the stricken woman. She called her every night between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. to make sure she was all right. After seven calls without an answer, the friend drove to the house and found the woman on the floor. The Karns Fire Department made its second trip of the day to help. During their first trip, the men didn’t convince the lady to go to the hospital.

We arrived shortly, and the two who had driven to the house said that they needed to get home to check on one of their family members. Amy and I found our friend asleep. Our presence left her confused and surprised. We feared that she might have suffered a serious event and made the decision that she was going to the hospital.

Amy placed a 911 call to request an ambulance. It was about 12:30 a.m. The person taking the call was understanding and asked several questions to better assess the situation. Then she told Amy that it would be some time before an ambulance came since they were all out on calls. She promised to call back when one was on its way.

After we hadn’t heard from anyone for a couple of hours, Amy again called 911. She was told that a record of the call was on file and that an ambulance would arrive as soon as possible. At 9:00 a.m. the next morning, we were still waiting for one. Our friend needed to go to the bathroom but was too weak to make it back to bed. We called the fire department again, and they arrived promptly. One of the officers had been at the house the night before. They gently took care of her and treated her with kindness and respect.

Amy called again for an ambulance, but now one wasn’t available because crews were with patients they’d delivered to hospitals. We’d called the lady’s children, and her daughter contacted us to find out at which hospital her mom was being treated. She was angry when we told her about the problem, and she said goodbye. In only a few minutes she called again to tell us an ambulance would be at our location in fifteen minutes. She was right. I wondered how someone in Colorado could get an ambulance when we in Knoxville couldn’t.

Knoxville is a modern city with many things of which it should be proud. In many ways, officials have made the city and county more welcoming to visitors, and the many parks and trails offer excellent exercise sites. However, our leaders are letting us down when it comes to health concerns. The ambulance service evidently doesn’t have a large enough fleet to serve the community. How can that be possible? Why don’t county leaders demand better service or void the contract with this company and find another more reliable one?

This failure to address a known problem reminds me of a meeting with the Knox County Commission concerning a new subdivision. The Karns Fire Department engine dangerously maneuvered a curve on the road into which traffic would dump. The person speaking for the roads in Knox County replied to our objection to the subdivision, “There are a lot of narrow roads in Knox County.“

That was it. The developer was permitted to build the subdivision, and folks still take their chances on the roads; the fire engines take a longer route to avoid problems.

Our friend is recovering from her health emergency. Let’s all say a prayer that another person won’t meet a different fate because not enough ambulances are available to answer calls or have an accident as they drive on dangerous county roads to provide assistance.