The Man on the Street
I was crossing Madison and 55th yesterday, and found an elderly man sprawled on the street, his head
resting on the curb. Blood flowed from a head wound. He did not appear to be breathing and I could not
find a pulse in his neck, although sometimes I have trouble finding my own pulse. I did not attempt CPR (I
do not know how anyway), in part due to the demands of the gathering crowd not to move him.
To its credit the St. Luke's ambulance, accompanied by a fire truck, responded within six minutes of my 911
call. As the stretcher was lifted, the man's arm flopped out like a rag doll turned on its back. His nose and
sinuses were blue. From the EMT's cursory attempt at CPR, I think he was already dead, possibly the victim
of a massive coronary that preceded his fall. Someone ran up to the truck with his eyeglasses, no longer of
As the ambulance left, I said a quick prayer for his recovery, or his soul. A fireman appeared and sprayed
down the curb with a hydrant. Nothing beside remained.
The crowd dispersed, leaving me alone for a moment on the sidewalk. Then I left too, late for an
November 16, 2007