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Respond "Man Down" on 1st Avenue


I looked down at the man lying on the sidewalk. Vomit leaked out of the side of his mouth. A clear liquid that reeked of alcohol.


“Hey, Clarence,” I said and shook his shoulder.


“Ummm, heeelllooo.” He mumbled.


“You can’t sleep in front of the Executor Bistro. The patrons are having to step over you, and that isn’t good for business.”


Hmmmph.” Replied Clarence.


My partner and I stood at either end of his tall, emaciated frame. Everything was sunken except for his balloon of a belly, liver damage from too many years of drinking. My partner stood at his head. I was glad that I didn’t have to get close to his hair soiled in vomit and reeking of street grime and the sickly-sweet odor of old alcohol. I had to lift his legs, which were housed in filthy jeans that would have walked off by themselves if they were freed from traveling with this wayward body.


“1, 2, 3.” On three, we lifted him up and onto our stretcher. The firefighters stood back and watched. Leaving the lifting of Clarence, to the lowly ambulance crew. He was one of their frequent flyers. Clarence was a resident drunk who, daily, passed out in downtown Seattle. Much to the disgust of people walking down the sidewalks and the local businesses.


I rode in the back of the ambulance while my partner drove up familiar, steep city streets to Harborview Hospital’s Emergency entrance. A trip we made frequently with drunks in tow. We deposited him into observation area one, on a corner bed. There he would lay until he sobered up. Then he’d wander out the door and make his way downtown to his next bottle; drinking until he passed out again.

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