I had an eventful lunch today:

My new coworker and I decided to head over to Safeway to pick up some goodies to eat.  After my amazing sandwich was made I headed across the store to find her.  As I passed the frozen food aisle I noticed that something wasn’t right.  In front of me I saw an older man clinging onto the door of one of the freezers as he was sliding to his knees.

I quickly walked over and asked him if he was ok, and if I could help him.  I thought that maybe he had dropped something, or had lost his balance, but as I approached him he groaned and collapsed on to the floor.  I ran back down the aisle and started yelling to anyone close to me to call 911 and then went back to the gentleman on the floor.  I kneeled down next to him and started talking to him to make sure he was conscious and to let him know that help was on the way.

A very kind woman who was looking for a diet Coke at the time of the incident hurried over and called 911.  She asked me questions to ask the man, and I’d translate his responses so she could tell the 911 dispatcher.  His voice was slurred and his face got very red, but thankfully he stayed conscious.  I just kept praying to whoever would listen to please not let him die there.  I kept thinking about whether he had someone waiting for him at home, or if he lived by himself nearby.  I kept thinking about how much his neck must be hurting since he fell in a very awkward position – on his stomach with his arms underneath him, and his face sideways on the floor.

He told me that he was in pain and that he had recently had a neck surgery, so I knew that even readjusting his left arm (which was awkwardly smashed under his shopping basket) wouldn’t be a good idea.  Instead I asked if he could hear me and if he could feel my touch on his shoulder.  I asked if he could wiggle his right fingers and though he said he could I barely saw them move.  I didn’t know what else to say, and was having a hard time understanding his slurred voice.  I just kept reassuring him that help was on the way, and that I wouldn’t leave until someone got there.

Words can’t explain how relieved I was when I saw the Fire Department come around the corner.  They were very nice, however it seemed that only 1 or 2 really knew what they were doing.  Maybe it was a training call, I have no idea.  Either way they were able to get the man onto the backboard and he was still conscious enough to answer some questions.  I told the paramedics what I knew and then turned away to go find my coworker.

I immediately burst into tears.

I’m not sure if it was the shock, or the adrenaline, or what… but I was just so upset and concerned over what happened.  My thoughts went to my Grandpas (who have since passed), and to all the older men out there wearing velcro shoes.  I was just hoping and hoping beyond all reason that this man had someone who would be waiting for him in the ER when he got released.  I dried my tears, found my coworker, and headed back to the office to finish another day.

I don’t know this man’s name, but I know he was wearing a dark tweed-ish jacket with grey velcro shoes.  He’s in his late 60’s-early 70’s, and the incident took place at Safeway in the Financial District (Jackson St.) at about 11:30-11:45 am.  I believe the paramedics came from the SF Fire Department, Station 13. I have no idea how to find out about his well-being, so if anyone out there knows… or knows how to find out, please let me know. This whole incident is weighing on my mind and I’d just like to know that he is ok.

PS: The Hot Italian Turkey sandwich from Safeway is absolutely amazing.  ABSOLUTELY.