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My mother passed away at home last week. She was 90 years old, suffered from dementia, and had been in the Spotsylvania Project Lifesaver system until she became bedridden. Mom had a health care aide, was under hospice care, and had a do-not-resuscitate order in place.
When she passed, a call was made to the county non-emergency phone number. The previous information was explained to the dispatcher, along with the fact that the person calling was a former firefighter and certified EMT in another state. He requested a "quiet" response--just the EMTs and a deputy, if necessary.
The responders arrived with lights and sirens blaring--seven men and three vehicles. They barged into my house, and the firefighters were preparing to take telemetry equipment out of the ambulance.
Not until the lead EMT actually saw the DNR was he able to get most of the men to leave the house--except for the deputy, who had to see the body. When we called the Sheriff's Department to get an explanation about this response, we were told that the response was appropriate, as "it was a crime scene."
This was not a barroom shoot-out; it was the passing of an elderly woman.
My father was a New York City firefighter, so I have respect for all first-responders. But this response was inappropriate, insensitive, and an assault on the dignity of the deceased and the family.
Losing a love one is traumatic enough. Enduring the circus that was playing out around us was painful and deplorable.
I hope that someone in authority in the county reads this letter and ensures that a process and protocol for responding to situations such as this is instituted, so that no other individual or family has to experience what I did.