A "What if..." Question

agnespuffinMay 27, 2013

You know how it happens, you get to talking and then,,,you start to think. What would you do if....

The question came up. A couple, doesn't matter how old...living alone, go to bed and during the night, one dies. The other one doesn't notice until the next morning. There is no doubt about it. It's a death.

So....do you call the police, a funeral home, an ambulance or what? I know if there was a chance for life, 911 would be the thing to do.

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I suppose it depends on the local laws.
It recently happened to the neighbors on the adjacent property - the man's wife passed away during the night, believe he called 911 and the First responder set the procedure in motion. The Sheriff/Coroner has to sign the papers, I'm not sure how the remains are transported, believe the Funeral home has to send a vehicle, the ambulance is not authorized to transport dead people. An autopsy is required to rule out foul play and establish a cause of death.
I can imagine how difficult this was on the family, all the bureaucracy in addition to the shock of her passing so suddenly.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 9:46AM
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I had not thought about an autopsy. I would think that unless the person was elderly or had some big medical problem, an autopsy would be almost a routine procedure. But as you said, a lot would depend on local laws.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 10:24AM
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Here you would contact either the FH or 911. In either case, the police do come to the home to make sure that there was no foul play. If the person had been ill the doctor can attest to it and an autopsy would not be needed. The FH would transport the remains.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 1:48PM
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The person I spoke of was a diabetic (Type 1) she was 51 years old and managed her disorder very well, so there was a mystery and an autopsy was needed. It was determined that she had a bad reaction to an OTC flu remedy.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 2:40PM
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I agree that we ought to follow the local "custom", "law", "regulations" etc...
Personally,I would call 911 and let the procedure go on.
However, death is a business, just like everything else.
A women I know found DH dead, she called 911, told them that DH was dead and did not need an ambulance. They sent an ambulance anyway and explained that it was "policy" to send an ambulance and they billed her about $300.00+ for the service.
She went to court and lost the fight to "policy".

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 7:12PM
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WG, that stinks! It's hard enough to deal with the situation, our 911 dispatch will notify the Fire Dept, they provide ambulance and first response. A first responder would come to the residence along with the sheriff/coroner, take care of the paper-work and notify the funeral home to pick up the remains.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 8:18PM
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lovetogarden(z4 NY)

This happened when my parents were married. My mother woke up in the middle of the night(around 2am) to use the bathroom and happen to glance over at my father's side of the bed and noticed that he didn't look right. She went over to his side of the bed and touched him and he was cold. He died of a massive heart attack a few hours earlier. The first person my mother called was my oldest sister, who was married at the time, and my sister called the police and a priest because my mother was so distraught she wasn't able to do it herself. Because my father had died at the age of 48, had no known illness at the time, and therefore wasn't under the supervision of any doctor, the police had the coroner come who had my father taken to be autopsied where it was found that he had an undetected heart defect (a large hole in his heart). The coroner expressed amazement that my father managed to live as long as he did with such, what he called, a massive defect. At the time I was away at college and was called into the Dean office at around 11 am where the Dean himself gave me the bad news. Anyway, that's how it was handled by my family.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 10:42PM
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Just a little change of subject...

If you have someone in a nursing home, go ahead and pick out a funeral home. Let the NH know and tell them that when it is needed, go ahead and start things off by calling them.

You can let the FH know that you have picked them. You don't need to make any "arrangements" yet. This allows the patient to be moved out of the room with a minimum lapse of time. They usually have a room mate and this helps with the stress factor for them.

You can then take a day or two off without worrying. The NH can start things moving without having to contact you first. You can almost bet that, even when it's expected, it will happen when you can't be reached.

Just be sure that everyone understands why and what you have done.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 12:35AM
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I would call our police non-emergency number and ask them what to do. It's what I always do. I've only called 911 when it was some man slapping around a woman so hard I could hear it inside my closed home. They were there instantly. I wouldn't want to clog the 911 line for even an instant if there was nothing that could be done to help someone very quickly. It might be a better alternative than 911 if you can.

I hadn't thought about the nursing home--funeral home aspect. It never occured to me; I'm glad you said that.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 8:17AM
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