Photo of a D.C. FEMS ambulance at a car accident.
D.C. FEMS ambulance at a car accident. Photo courtesy of Elvert Barnes / Wikimedia Commons.

I have a seizure disorder and have been having issues in the month of July 2020, and Washington D.C.’s emergency system did not take the threat of me losing my life seriously. I have been dealing with this issue for over 20 years, and have never been scared for my life like I was during a two week period when I had to deal with two life-threatening experiences.

On July 2 I lost all movement in my body from the waist down after I had taken my seizure medication. I was sitting at my desk and when I got up to get some papers I hit the ground instead of walking. I got back in the chair and tried again with the same results, as my guest in the other room asked me if everything was okay. I finally replied no and told him I lost all stability and could not walk and that I would have to call 911. Now, at this time I was scared for my life because I had never experienced anything like this. After dialing 911 I was asked what my emergency was and I explained the situation to the operator. She then had me speak to someone else about the severity of my issue and what type of health insurance I had. After speaking to her for a couple of minutes she acted like she did not want to have anyone sent out but finally said we are sending someone now. Me and my guest waited several minutes and called back to find out what was taking so long and was told no one had actually been sent as if my call wasn’t urgent or important. They arrived about 30 minutes later and took another 30 minutes of questions just to have me wait for a private ambulance to take me to the hospital instead of doing it themselves. 

My experience with the private ambulance was horrible. After I was loaded up in the back the paramedic closed the door but did not lock it, and actually told me that I was faking and did not need help once they got me to the emergency room.

The same thing occurred again after I was released from the hospital, but this time I was home alone. When I got up to walk once again I lost control of my body and fell to the ground. After that first experience, I chose to call my neighbor to rush me to the hospital because I had lost all trust in D.C.’s emergency system. He had to come and pick me up and assist me to his vehicle. Once we arrived at the hospital he tried to find a wheelchair so that I could get into the hospital and get assistance and find out why this keeps happening. He couldn’t find a wheelchair so we got out of the car and he assisted me in the emergency room and I fell in front of the registration desk. There were other people in front of me so I just asked a nurse for help with finding a wheelchair and he looked at me and said with an attitude, “No, I’m not helping you until you ask me nicely, because I don’t have to do anything you say or anything for you.” I replied to him, “Actually you do, because it’s your job,” and we then got into a back-and-forth argument. So I dragged myself to the waiting room and got in the first chair I could see. Now, everyone in the waiting room had the thought, “Well, he is lying and he keeps throwing himself to the floor on purpose.” I was becoming stressed and scared because I wasn’t sure what my body would allow me to do once I got up. 

Their main focus, once I was in the chair, was what type of insurance I had and how I was going to pay the bill they were preparing for me. Times have changed to the point where people don’t take emergencies seriously unless they meet certain standards. 

I could have lost my life by harming myself when I tried to walk or destroyed my house or tried to harm someone else since I did not know what my body would do. It took over 20 minutes each time I called for an ambulance. I have no trust in the emergency system and fear that other people can not trust the system as well. 

I dealt with homeless issues for many years in life and did not come this far to put my life in danger dealing with a system that is meant to help save my life. Every day is a fight and battle to make sure I stay as calm and stress-free as possible, being that stress is something that triggers my disorder. 

Something has to be done about this before others start losing their lives as some have already done in the past. I would like for the emergency system to take all calls as if the person that called could be losing their lives. Once they were notified I had a seizure disorder and could not walk, that should have been enough to tell them I needed to be at a hospital. Instead, they took their time with the test just to have a private ambulance come and take me. I’m scared of D.C.’s emergency services and don’t know what to do when my life is in danger because of my seizure disorder.