Friday, March 02, 2007

Tuesday 20th Feb 07

Often you see homeless people in completely different outfits from day to day and week to week. For them it is easier to go to a charity, shower, and change into another set of used clothes(free) than to wash the ones they were wearing. The charity will wash the discarded clothes and then pass them onto the next person. So sometimes you think you're seeing a similar garment on someone else, when in fact it the same one that has just been passed on. And then there are those, like me, who never change what clothes they're wearing, and it becomes a part if their identity.

In the evening I was talking to one of the crew called Warren and he agreed to go into rehab. He is a thin white guy from the country that had used switching to alcohol as a detox method to get off Heroin, swapping one addiction for another (hopefully less destructive) one. It think this method had some 'cool' name but I have forgotten it for now, so I'll call it an 'alco detox switch'. The problem for Warren was that his high long term use of drugs and alcohol had damaged both his kidneys and the bruising from their internal bleeding had made both his hip areas pretty black. In reality he is in dire straights and told me he had been on dialysis previously.

He decided he had had enough and it was time to go to a Rehab and dry out, then head home to the country and get away from the city for a while. I had offered to support him and visit him while he was in Rehab and he said he would appreciate that, it would mean a lot to him, and so (as he was also had back pain from the kidney trouble) he asked me to call him an ambulance. I made the call and they said it would be dispatched right away and I went and sat back down with him. While we sat there I asked if I could pray for him and he said that would be good, and so we spent a few minutes in prayer. As we waited a pair of cops came over and told us to move along. I explained to them that an ambulance was coming but they replied that there was no ambulance coming, that the ambo service had called them(the police) to handle the situation as it was not considered a priority for them. Warren showed the cops his bruised hips but they said 'if you want your kidneys to improve then just stop drinking' and again told us to leave the area. Shocked that they didn't see that getting Warren to hospital and Rehab was in 'everyones best interests' I helped walk him away, down the road. I offered to help him tram up to the hospital but, feeling rejected, he was no longer interested in trying to get any other help that night.

Later I was thirsty and went into HJs to get a cup of iced water but they refused to give me one because I didn't look 'trustworthy'. It actually worked out in my favour as I then went next door to McDonalds, where I got a cup (no fuss), and sat down. Sam was there and he kept giving me strange looks, so I invited him to sit with me. He said he was surprised to see me sitting there as I wasn't in the store when he first walked in, and he had been watching the door (without a break) ever since. He said there was no way I walked in without him noticing and was suspicious as to how I got there (he might have been thinking teleport?). We ended up having a good chat for over an hour about politics and all sorts of other things. As he left I noticed his pants were split at the back, which is not an uncommon sight among the homeless (not that I am out here looking at asses all day). I wondered if he knew or didn't care? I decided not to ask.

Feeling like doing some more scrubbing, I got up and asked the manager if it was ok if I used the rest room basin to fill up my bucket. He then offered to fill the bucket himself and went round the back of the kitchen and came back shortly with some hot water. I was very grateful. Heading across the road I started cleaning and there were a couple of street kids at the top of the steps. They asked me all sorts of questions about God, half in jest but also some serious ones as well. Their biggest question was whether I thought Homosexuality was wrong? I gave them my opinion and they said it was the best answer they had heard, and gave me their respect. Then they went off into the night, and I got the whole step finished and felt good.


JJ Glamma said...

Shocked that they didn't see that getting Warren to hospital and Rehab was in 'everyones best interests'

Would it have been in the best interests of someone in a nearby suburb who just happened to suffer a heart attack while the ambulance was ferrying Warren to rehab? Or someone knifed or bashed in the city at the same time?

John Christopher said...

Well yes I totally agree with Priorities and it would have been fine if they said it might be an hour or two before they could get there.

That they decided not to come was probably a bit more of a surprise due to what I have seen with the quick and often response they always give to Dougy, for just being intoxicated..

Overall, I respect and support the Ambo's and Police in their work.

JJ Glamma said...

If you can wait an hour or two for an ambulance, then you don't need an ambulance.

Ok, that's a witticism, but it does express a truth.

In any case, it's not a matter of it taking time; it's a matter of needing to always have a unit ready to respond to an emergency call. That need won't go away in a couple of hours.

Occasionally, if there are two or three units available, the dispatcher might send one on a non-emergency call.

God help that dispatcher if multiple emergency calls then arrive in quick succession, and there are not enough units available to respond.

(Something else to keep in mind is that neither you nor I are familiar with either Dougy or Warren's medical records, but the ambos would be.)