Some guy had a seizure. Or syncope. Or something like that.
A lot was “lost in translation,” as they say.
The house smells of strange cooking and there is fancy looking artwork and sculptures all around.
This guy was visiting some family, and just got to the States a couple of days ago. He’s from Angola, according to the passport handed to me.
We’re the second unit on scene, and the fire guys are busy trying to do an assessment. From all outward appearances, the guy is fine, but he doesn’t speak much, if any, English. They’re trying to determine his level of consciousness.
“Are you hurting any where?” one guy yells at him, as though increased volume makes it easier to understand your foreign language.
His translator repeats the question and the patient’s answer: “No.”
Fire dude number three reports the absolutely normal vital signs.
Translator says the patient doesn’t want to go to the hospital.
“Sir,” fire dude number one continues to yell, “I’ve got some strange questions I have to ask you.”
We all wait, impatiently, for these potentially pertinent interrogatories.
“Can you tell me what year it is?”
“Can you tell me what day it is?”
“Can you tell me who the President is?”*
“Jose Eduardo dos Santos.”
“Can you tell me how many quarters are in a dollar?”**
“I have no idea.”
“Well, sir, we are going to have to take you to the hospital, it seems that you are sorta confused, and you might need to get that checked out.”
I’m too busy checking out these cool ass paintings, but that’s when I hear Smokey chime in.
“Nah, he’s good.”
The fire dudes look at him with befuddlement. “But he’s confused. He doesn’t know who the president is, and he doesn’t know how many quarters are in a dollar.”
“He’s not from America, and according to his passport, he came to the United States on Tuesday, through LaGuardia. The president of Angola is Jose de Santos, and their currency isn’t the dollar, it’s the Kwanza, so he’s probably never heard of a quarter.”***
They look crushed and impressed at the same time. Later, Smokey would tell me he hit up the Wikipedia page for Angola while the fire dudes were yelling at the patient. We got the refusal.
He was alert.
*this question rarely, if ever, matters, and more often than not elicits a response that is unnecessary.
**this question is just as dumb.
***I prefer “What’s your name? “Where are you?” What day and year is it?” and “Can you tell me exactly what happened for us to be called here?” when getting a refusal. But hey, to each fire dude their own.