Being the right person at the right time – by Curt Swarm, Empt


I don’t know what it is about the “first-time-you-have-something, you-use-it,” but I’ve seen it play out way too often, not only with me, but with others.
I had just passed my EMT test in Ft. Collins, Colorado and was on my way home, feeling proud and pleased with myself for having accomplished something I had wanted to do for a long time. It was about 10:00 at night. Rounding an S curve I came upon an accident scene that looked pretty bad. There didn’t seem to be any emergency vehicles or police on scene yet. I could see what looked like a rollover with people bunched up around it. I pulled over, approached the group, identified myself as an EMT, and offered to help. As it turned out, I wound up performing CPR for the first time on a young woman who didn’t make it. Bummer. That was day one of being an EMT.
Day Two: I had been accepted as a probationary member of a volunteer fire department. Once again, I was proud and pleased at having accomplished something I had set as a goal for myself. I was on my way to work. Right in front of the fire department, I kid you not, was a rollover accident with the car lying on its roof right in the middle of the street. I pulled over to help. There was a man walking around confused, saying, “I can’t believe it. I’m driving along and all of a sudden, I’m upside down.” It was winter and, evidently what had happened was, he had hit a mound of snow and ice that was piled up in the middle of the street. When the city had plowed its streets, they had left piles of snow and ice in the middle of the streets and hadn’t removed them yet. (You all know what this is like.) The snow and ice became dirty, the same color as the pavement, making the piles hard to see in the early-morning light. The driver of the vehicle had hit one of these piles and flipped his car. “Can’t you guys plow your streets?” he was asking the police, shaking his head in bewilderment.
Day Three: I went to the hospital to donate blood. Right in the middle of the reception area there was a man lying on the floor having what appeared to be convulsions. I couldn’t figure out why no one was paying attention to him. I bent over the guy to see what I could do. A nurse tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Leave him be, he’s all right.” She winked at me. I got it. This was a mentally ill person wanting attention and faking a medical emergency. I was totally disgusted with the situation and at myself for having been so easily conned.
Tim Olson, a local mortician in Mt. Pleasant, had just recertified for CPR. He was on his way to the optician’s to have his eyes checked. It was the middle of winter and the streets were icy. There was an elderly lady flat on her back on the sidewalk with a knee injury. Tim, conscious of his training and wanting to help, took off his coat and covered her up. He looked into her eyes, she smiled up at him and said, “Thank you.” A lady nearby came up and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, the ambulance is on its way.”
The lady replied, “It’s okay, dear. The undertaker is here.”
Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook. Curt’s stories are also read at 106.3 FM in Farmington.

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