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Mom fell in her bedroom earlier this week, during the night. I could not lift her and had to call 911 for assistance. they showed up after 3 hours: two guys and a student. they took Mom to the hospital as a precaution. (we only spent the night, nothing broken)


In order to get Mom out of her room and out of the house, the ambulance guys had to (a) make crass remarks about our belongings and our housekeeping style, and (b) shove her stuff all over the place, without regards for tidiness or fragility. Example 1: In the bedroom doorway there was a mini hamper / footstool that had clothes on top and sewing patterns etc. inside. It was tipped upside down onto her bed. Example 2: A naked Michael Jackson doll (in the doorway of another room) was picked up and waved around, with much laughter. Example 3: An end table that has not been moved in literally 50 years was picked up, the items on top (lamp, alarm clock, books, silver cutlery case, and much dust) thrown onto the bed, and it was replaced at a 90 degree angle, the leg through a cardboard box containing handmade items I made in the 70's and 80's. (This was allegedly done in order to shift the bed, to make more room for the carrier.) Also despite my being in a great deal of pain, and repeated requests for help, very little effort was made to help me clear the hall completely of stuff, in order to get the carrier down the hall.


The only reason I did not completely lose it (of which I have done an awful lot these days) is because I had taken a couple of Tylenol, which dull my emotions as well as the physical pain. I noted rather firmly to the clowns that I had spent the past two months cleaning by myself while Mom was inthe hospital, but they were unmoved.


When we did come home later that morning, it took the entire day to clear off Mom's bed, strip it, change the sheets, put back the end table (you can imagine the colony of dust bunnies behind it) and clear enough of the floor for her to stand safely. (lots of small things on the floor like lipsticks, batteries, easy things to trip on.)


While I appreciate that some items had to be shifted in order to help get Mom out, I'd like to know if this is normal behavior. Especially in front of a student. Mom doesn't want me to file a formal complaint. So far, besides the damaged box, I have found one broken figurine and the barrel of a cookie press was trampled.

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Big question and we may not get an honest answer -- were the people coming into a hoarding situation where things had to be cleared to attend to the patient? To tell the truth, I would be ashamed if EMTs saw my mother's bedroom right now. It would fail every safety check, since she has blankets on the floor and clutter all about. I wouldn't blame an EMT at all if he/she chewed me out for the condition of the room. They wouldn't know how I had tried and how I felt ashamed of the condition. They would just know what they saw.
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If, in your book who ever made the mess needs to clean in up - I'd take a page from your own book and get to work. EMTs are in the business of saving lives not clearing pathways to have to do so. I imagine they see and deal with a lot in their job and right or wrong get a bit frustrated. From what you discribe your house was in an unsafe condition for having a senior at risk living there. What if there had been a fire? No time for moving boxes and tables - and naked dolls from the floor. When you are living alone and/or with completely functioning adults living with clutter is your business. When you bring a vulnerable senior to live with you and one that may need emergency assistance it ceases to be so. I'm sorry if I sound harsh but I kinda think a reality check is in order here. Expecting EMTs to save lives is in line - expecting them to tidy up afterwards is a bit much - jmho. Sorry.
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Movie reference for today. This reminds me of a scene in the movie Backdraft. Someone parks their BMW in front of a fire hydrant and the firemen break both side windows to pass the hose thru the car...
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Smiles at you all...gosh I love you all......I just have found that a clean tidy sweet smelling house makes ME feel better and gawd knows I need something to make me feel better!
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If the home was in disarray to the point of being unsafe, filing the complaint might be the least of your concerns. I would think that EMT's are mandatory reporters of elder abuse, unsafe living conditions, etc.
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Quite frankly and I am going to be quite frank I have downsized twice now I moved a one bedroom flat into an already furnished 3 bed house and have now moved all of that into a two bed apartment and yes it is a pain in the rear yes it takes damned hard work and no it can't be done in a day but it can be done. And you don't have to leave a mess. You both clearly have hoarding tendencies about which you are in denial.

It is time to prioritise safety over all else safety in terms of walkways and you must not allow your Mum to be able to grab whatever is to hand, you need rails that are properly installed, you cannot have mats you need clear floors. Doorways should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be clear in preparation for quick access and egress - this is basic stuff as for dust bunnies how can you not have moved a table for 50 years? You seem to be lacking basic housekeeping skills. I am 63 and I still spring clean not the whole house in spring as my parents did but I do one room from top to bottom every month as well as dusting and hoovering at least once a week (usually daily).

Let me address the points you made

'She was on her way back from the bathroom and was sitting on the bed to go back to sleep. She missed the bed and fell on the floor, hitting her elbow on the bed frame. She was laying between the bed, a bookcase, and the doorway. She did not slip on the mat, though I did pull it out of the way when trying to help her up.'

Get a commode in the bedroom for nighttime, pull up the mat and don't put it back either move the bookcase or the bed or do some serious decluttering

'I have lived with her my entire life, and always in this house, a small bungalow'

You should, by now, have worked out that keeping a small space clean and tidy is critical

'Mom was in the hospital for 25 days in Feb and March, and then another 13 days in a convalescent home. At the hospital and home, she was using a walker.
Since coming home, Mom has been waffling about getting a walker and/or cane, preferring instead to go back to her old ways of hanging onto everything and me as she shuffles around. '

Why are you allowing her to waffle buy a walker on line - problem sorted - 38 days is a long time not to get the bungalow sorted if as you say you are not hoarders

'The hospital shunted her off to the home to focus on her mobility; at the home, the physio just gave her a few exercises to do in her room. Mom had to depart in a big hurry after being attacked twice. '

You should be addressing these attacks with an elderly attorney if no resonable explanation is being given

'She will not go out to the place that sells medical devices; she will not have anyone come to the home to evaluate her needs. Ditto for a new physio.'

See above buy the walker and present her with a fait accomplish. Have the physic come to the home to assess your needs - if she uses you as her walker you are destined for ill health from the next fall she has and it could be very very serious

'While Mom was away I was cleaning up. I anticipated she would come home with a walker, so every day I was clearing the hall, the living room, and a bit in her room, so there would be room for it. '

This should have been done a long time ago and not be a knee jerk reaction to an event

'In between all this I did other housework, daily visits to the hospital and home, looked for a job (unsuccessfully), had major depressive episodes, and tried to take a night class but had to drop out. This has left me physically and emotionally exhausted, bordering on suicidal. '

You need to get help/ medical intervention sooner rather than later - you are not coping - this is not a criticism just a statement of fact from the information you have presented us with

'Based on the dispatcher's questions, I suspect: She was fully alert, not bleeding, old, and spoke English'

Fully alert therefore life no threatened
Not bleeding therefore unlikely to bleed out
Spoke English so they could tell the information they were being given was accurate

It was a priority just not a high one, I do agree though that while age should not enter into the criteria it very often does.

Finally if you have cleaned for 2 months and you still don't have clear access or egress then you do have hoarding issues regardless of whether you like that comment or not
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rwarren, if it took all day to clear off the top of the bed, then the house is in a serious hoarding condition. Especially since you wrote "very little effort was made to help me clear the hall completely of stuff, in order to get the carrier down the hall." If there is an elder in the home, why on earth have things sitting in the hallway? That's an accident waiting to happen.

Now what about the 3 hours to get to your home.... do you live way out in a rural area where the nearest ambulance service is 200 miles away, or did the weather play a part in the time?

What caught my attention, and I don't wish to be rude here, you mainly wrote in detail about the house and its content. How about why did your Mom fall? What is her age and medical issues? Does she use a cane or a walker? Does she live with you or you with her? Has she fallen before? Often or rarely?

As for the EMT's joking around. In all the 911 calls I had to make for my parents, not once were any of them unprofessional.
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They were definitely rude and insensitive, which should be brought to someone's attention.
As for the stuff... I suppose it is asking a bit much to expect someone in crisis mode to be prepared, but they really couldn't be expected to wait half an hour while the hallway was cleared and the furniture rearranged, and although they might have been big strapping men it isn't in their job description to move it for you.

You, and everyone reading this thread, need to learn from this lesson and be better prepared going forward. If there is someone in your house that may need to be carried out they must to be in a room that makes it possible, clutter, stairs, narrow doorways are all barriers to care and could waste precious minutes in a real emergency.
And although everyone keeps talking about big men coming to help lift someone off the floor or carry them off to hospital, you must know that EMS employs lots of women, sometimes even two women working together, so you can't rely on their brute strength to get you through.
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I have the same questions as FF - why was there so much stuff that clearing it was an issue? Your reference to an end table that hasn't been moved in 50 years, lots of dust bunnies, hamper/footstool in a doorway ...this tells me that the situation in the house lent itself to the necessity of the EMTs moving stuff in order to get to your mother, and that the specific room wasn't easily accessible, inferring to me that the paramedics had to move some of the stuff to get in.

Providing a clear pathway is far more important than doing dishes or laundry.

It's also been my experience that EMTs are very, very professional, as well as courteous, considerate and helpful. And they have to go into often unsafe situations and deal with a wide variety of patients. I admire them for their professionalism and dedication.

You wouldn't be the only one living in an overly cluttered house, but it's better to recognize the situation in the house than blame EMTs for mistreating some of your possessions. Let this be a lessons learned and focus on providing clear pathways in the event your mother falls again. CWillie's advice is insightful.

If you want to file a complaint, think about what would happen if they report you to APS and you're visited with a mandate to clean up the house and get rid of all the extra clutter. Frankly, I would suspect that the EMTs may already have done something like this, because the clutter could have contributed to your mother's fall, and the dust bunny accumulation would affect her respiratory system.

I'm sure they're mandated reporters, and if they see an unsafe situation, they're probably obligated to do something about it, which would likely mean a report to APS.

And BTW, why did you post this same question 5 times? Even if it doesn't post right away, wait a minute or two, but 5 times is really overkill.

CWillie, good points about being prepared, and that applies to anyone of any age.
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RIGHT Lets be practical here. You have a house that needs sorting out and really are finding it impossible. If you don't want to get rid of anything and I understand that (to a degree) then you have to organise it so that it is not dangerous. No questions you do have to clear entrance and egress but that may not be that easy so lets start the easy way.

Collect some stout cardboard boxes from local stores and start packing away the things that you have not used in over a year.

I would start with the kitchen and the toilet purely because they are places where germs can harbour and from where cross infection can occur very easily.

Check your cupboards and throw out food that is out of date. No question - you cannot eat it with any degree of confidence in its safety so clear it out. Then it is down to clearing out the rubbish and by that I mean cartons bags etc that do collect, be they on tops, floor in cupboards in other bags or wherever they are and throw them out. Food is a prime source for infestation as well as contamination so get rid.

Then arm yourself with hot water soap and a lot of cleaning cloths and start the cleaning process one cupboard at a time take everything out clean the cupboard inside and out, dry the cupboard thoroughly then put the stuff back tidily and in an organised format. Do one cupboard at a time until they are all done, by which time you will have found more to throw away or pack - remember this rule if you haven't used it in a year pack it and write on the side of the box what you put in it and the date. They will still be there but just packed properly. once you have the kitchen and the toilet clean then pick a room and start on cleaning it. Again pack what you haven't used in a year and stack these boxes against a wall in a room where this is safe - NOT YOUR MOTHERS BEDROOM whatever you do don't store it there - she will grab for it somewhen and the whole lot will come down.

Once everything is packed away and you have scrubbed and cleaned and opened windows and let fresh air in then sit back and be very pleased with yourself for getting part of the way there. You still have everything but it is packed and neat and tidy.

You will at some point have to acknowledge that you cannot keep everything in such a small place but that is when you have to address the next bit - for now get the rooms organised to look as they should
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