Monday, October 13, 2014

Seconds Determine Life from Death

As a little girl, I remember when color television was invented. It was amazing. Before color, black and white seemed just fine to me. Of course, color TV was not life changing, it merely enhanced ones viewing experience.
Similarly, my grandmother would tell me about the differences the advent of automobiles had made in her life. She had grown up in the country, on a sugar cane farm, and motorized vehicles changed not only her life, but also the lives of humanity.
From her childhood home, she and her family would load into their wagon, pulled by their mule, and set out on a 13-hour ride to the nearest town to purchase provisions. They would make this trip bi-annually. I now reside in that small shopping town, and I can drive my vehicle to my grandmother’s home in slightly under 20 minutes. Truly, that is life altering, in a good way.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed many inventions. Some have been enhancing like color TV; others have been life altering like motorized vehicles. Many of these inventions have enhanced funeral services, and some of them have altered the service altogether.
The most-profound invention of late is Global Positioning System (GPS). Twenty years ago, when a client would call the funeral home at the passing of a loved one, funeral directors would get out maps and chart a course to the client’s home. Depending on circumstances, this could take a good amount of time. Then Map Quest came along, and funeral directors could merely type the client's address into the computer, print the directions onto paper and be on their way.
More recently, GPS was released for the consumer's delight. Now funeral directors may enter the decedent’s address into their GPS, and almost instantly, vocal driving directions are heard. GPS has certainly made life easier and more convenient.
There is however an issue with GPS. If one is searching a location that is on a newly constructed road or an obsolete country road, it most probably will not be in the GPS software. For funeral directors, this is a constant battle. The solution however is very simple. Provide your GPS coordinates rather than your address when in need of emergency services or funeral directors.
Yesterday I received a call to accept into custody, a decedent within my working area. I immediately jumped into my hearse, entered the appropriate address into my GPS, and away I went. It was not long before I realized I had a problem. The GPS took me far out into the country and deposited me at the end of a back wood road where no house was in sight. Thankfully, the decedent's family called my cell phone, at that precise moment, to see if I had lost my way. Indeed I had. Relying on my GPS through its address system, had proved to be futile.
The decedent’s fiancĂ©, who is a friend of mine, stated that she would hop in her car and drive out to find me. Problem number two, there were now two vehicles lost on back wood country roads. Apparently I looked very lost, as eventually, a man in a white truck flagged me over to see if I needed assistance. He was able to help me find my way. Thank goodness for good Samaritans.
I write this article today for good reason. If I had been emergency services rather than a funeral director, this family would have been in dire circumstances. With the help of dispatch, a peace officer, my GPS and the decedent's fiance, her location remained elusive without the assistance of a Good Samaritan.
The solution to this issue is quite simple. Chart your longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates through your GPS, and post them on your refrigerator. If you do this simple task, you can give your coordinates to emergency services and whether or not your street is new or obsolete; your coordinates will accurately function within the GPS system. This simple task might one day save valuable seconds when seconds determine life from death.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
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