“10 Maine Ave – 4th floor – Male 65 Years old – Irregular Heartbeat”

Does something seem peculiar with the aforementioned information?

I didn’t think so either. Except for the irregular heartbeat, the call looked perfectly regular.

(Sorry – I couldn’t help myself.)

All seemed legit – until GPS got on the radio waves.

GPS is the nickname honorably elected to a gentleman called Aaron. I say gentleman, but in fact, he would be better described as a machine; and this particular machine has an affinity to maps, streets, house numbers, and all things boring. He knows, at the tip of his fingers, and I kid you not – every single house in Jerusalem, and soon, the world. If he had the aspiration, and he doesn’t, he’d be out there working for NASA counting stars or something.

“Don’t be silly,” my grandfather would say, “You’re exaggerating.”

“No – I’m not!”

GPS doesn’t respond physically to many emergency calls, but instead monitors the ‘situation’ from his daytime job at a large bakery.

“What good is a medic who prefers baking?” asks my ever pragmatic grandfather.

Actually, a great deal of good and I’ll explain.

He clearly has a photographic memory and knows not only the number of buildings on each street, but also the number of apartments in each building.

Absurd – Yes.

Extremely helpful – Oh Yes.


Case Study #1

DISPATCHER: “Minor Injury at Bus Stop on Park Ave”

GPS: There is no bus stop on Park Ave.

Short and to the point: He needn’t say more. Control now knows with absolute certainty, that someone, somewhere, has made a mistake and that the data needs to be revisited and revised.


Case Study #2

DISPATCHER: “10 Maine Ave – 4th floor – Male 65 Years old – Irregular Heartbeat”

GPS: On Maine Avenue, house #10 is a villa; and there is certainly no apartment on the 4th floor. The correct address must therefore be Main Street, where #10 has 5 floors. Over and out.

The ‘new’ address is in a completely different neck of the woods. My neck of the woods.

“Unit #18 en route.”

I arrive simultaneously with Unit #24. We grab our kits and head to the elevator. Inside, I press number 4, and notice there are 5 floors.

GPS – Spot on.

Elevator doesn’t budge, so we go up manually. Yes, that means we took the stairs.

I knock on the door. No response. I begin to let myself in and am stopped by #24 who, a touch more fastidious than me, would never enter uninvited.

“It’s not correct etiquette!”

I politely disagree.

“This isn’t just an emergency call – it’s an intensive care ALS call. The patient might very well be lying on the floor, unconscious, alone, fading, perishing, expiring, declining, dying, decaying.”

OK, I went too far.

But still, the reality is that someone has called for an ambulance, and is now suspiciously quiet.

“I vote we knock, announce ourselves, and walk straight in.”

“All in favor say Aye!”

#24 is silent, contemplating the validity of my theory.

Or perhaps I had lost him at “decaying” – either way I let myself in, and start searching the small apartment.

I find the gentleman in the lounge on the floor; alive, breathing and conscious, but too weak to get up. I want to say “I told you so,” but fight the urge and focus on the patient.

One minute and several questions later, I learn that he is normally a healthy individual, but had suddenly felt terribly weak and dizzy. So weak in fact, that his legs had buckled under him, and he found himself dialing the emergency services. The rest is history.


His pulse was a touch fast – 120.

His systolic was a touch low – 100.


Actually come to think of it, my pulse was probably also 120. But I had a valid excuse;

4 flights + 184 pounds (me) + 30 pounds (EMT bag) = Cardio Workout.

Whereas he was just lazing about on the floor.

The ALS crew walked in, and I gave over the information that I had gleaned, including his fast pulse.

To be precise I said, “Pulse 120.”

The paramedic nodded at me as if I was being rather silly and juvenile. She asked me to step back, and proceeded to ask the exact same questions as I had moments before.

The patient looked confused, and so was I.

She proceeded to take his pulse and exclaimed aloud in utter disbelief “This man has Sinus Tachycardia!”

Her crew looked shocked and taken aback at this unforeseen twist.

(For the uninitiated, a pulse of 120 is by definition Tachycardia, except the latter is a more important word.)

I thought it an opportune time to leave, before I regurgitated all over her and her ego. This time #24 agreed, and we headed back down the four flights.


I’d vote for unpretentious GPS over conceited ALS any day – wouldn’t you?

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