« Long Beautiful Hair | Main | Memories of my Gram »

Thursday, 24 January 2008

A Second Chance

By Lia of the Yum Yum Café blog

A few years ago, we were woken early on a Saturday morning by an ambulance service. They inquired about whether we knew if our neighbour was home. They had received an emergency call, but no one was answering the doorbell.

We knew Bernd, our neighbour, had been in the hospital a few months before, so we told the ambulance workers the call might well be from him. Since he was not answering his door, I offered the ambulance people our hammer and told them they could break into the apartment from the kitchen window. They declined my offer; they were not legally allowed to pursue a forced entry, and therefore called the fire department.

We stood waiting outside Bernd’s door an agonising fifteen minutes before the fire department arrived. Our neighbour was dead when they entered the apartment, though they managed to reanimate him. Unfortunately, there is no happy end to this story. Bernd was in a coma for nearly four years and then died, in his early thirties, without gaining consciousness.

I have been haunted with the thought that if I had just thought clearly, overstepped the legal formalities and broken into the apartment myself and let the ambulance people in, maybe Bernd would be alive today.

A few months ago, I was at a birthday dinner at a tapas restaurant in Hamburg. The birthday gal, Anna, was sitting across from me, talking intently with one of her friends, Christine. Christine, four months pregnant, had just told her boss that day that she was pregnant. Her boss did not take the news well. I watched Anna talking, what I thought were comforting words to Christine. All of a sudden Anna turns to the rest of us at the table looking very confused and tells us that Christine isn’t talking sense.

Fortunately, Anna had made a passing comment earlier that evening mentioning that Christine was a diabetic. Instantly, I jumped up and went to call an ambulance and emergency doctor. They took six minutes to get to the restaurant, by which time Christine was unconscious. The doctor and ambulance people did an amazing job of getting her back conscious in a short time.

After spending a few days in the hospital, Christine and her unborn child were sent home in good health. The incident somehow was very uplifting. I felt as if the gods gave me a second chance.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


You have certainly had your share of drama, Lia. While no one will ever know if those fifteen minutes waiting for the Fire Department would have saved Bernd's life or not, there is also the distinct probability that it wouldn't have made any difference. You did save two lives by being observant and aware so you can give yourself a big pat on the back. You were a heroine.


Good for you that you recognized Christine's condition.

My neighbor is a young fellow named John, who lives alone and is also Diabetic. When I didn't see him for two days I became concerned and called. No Answer. I went over and banged on the door. Still no answer. I called 911. In 5 minutes our quiet cul de sac was filled with a giant fire engine and a EMS ambulance and A fireman was running up the driveway.

Now John had just installed a new front door with a gorgeous stained glass insert and the fireman was running toward that door with his hatchet poised to smash in anything between him and the patient.I shouted at the fireman,"Don't break that front door. Go around to the back" They did go around and they broke his kitchen door window and there at the table sat poor John in a Diabetic coma.

They tell me that they just got there in time to administer some insulin and get him to the hospital.

When John came home two days later he told me that he intended to thank the firemen for not smashing his new stained glass door. He thought they were wonderful to appreciate the beauty of his door and not touch it.

I never mentioned my remark to the fireman.

Wow, Lia, what a story. I'm so glad to here that you were able to help Christine. Perhaps you were only able to do it, because you had that experience with Bernd.

Darlene, you are right to say that I will never know whether those 15 minutes would have been enough. Unfortunately, we didn't know what Bernd was suffering from. He was a very private person. Now I know privacy or not privacy, it's better to burst in when the situation presents itself.

Nancy, John is lucky in more ways than one to have you there as his guardian angel. I can only hope he brings flowers to you on St. Valentine's Day...

Sharry, yes, Bernd taught me a lot. While everyone else was in a trance of indecisiveness, I just acted. Later, some of the women at the birthday party said they didn't want to interfere with Christine's personal choice about how to deal with the situation. Whereas, I just said, to heck with that, and made the 911 call. That was Bernd guiding me.

She is very lucky that you knew she was diabetic! As to the first part, it is hard to know when to be proactive in a case like that; you may not have saved him anyway.

kenju, there really isn't any way of knowing. I just pray Bernd's life was full and his death peaceful.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment