When the phone rang in the police station that day, no one imagined they would be receiving an unusual call for help. Most calls reported crimes or emergencies, but this one was so much simpler — and more complicated.
“Hello,” said a trembling voice on the other end of the line. “I wonder if you can help me. I can’t leave the house, and I haven’t eaten in three days…”
The horrified dispatcher asked for the caller’s name and address and immediately sent a unit to the location. By chance, the unit closest to the address at that time was manned by officers Steve Jones and Garret Franklin.
The dispatcher explained that it was a wellness check on a woman who had claimed to be unable to leave her home, and who said she was starving. Within minutes, the two officers were at the address.
To their surprise, the address took them to a beautiful house with a lovely garden in a pricy neighborhood. Not what you’d expect from someone who said they were starving.
The two officers walked up to the house and rang the doorbell. After a long while, they heard slow shuffling steps, and the door opened. A tiny old woman stood clinging to the door, trembling.
“Good afternoon, ma’am,” said Garret gently. “We received a call for help from a Mrs. Hilda Ross. Is that you?”
“Yes,” whispered the woman. “Please, come in.” The two officers followed the woman into the house and they noticed that her left arm was roughly bandaged and in a makeshift sling.
Mrs. Ross led them to the lounge and invited them to sit down. “Mrs. Ross,” said Steve. “Ma’am, are you hurt?”
Mrs. Ross blushed. “Yes,” she whispered. “I fell off the ladder on the back porch. I was trimming the bougainvillea…”
“I see,” said Steve. “And you were all alone?”
Mrs. Ross nodded. “My son lives with me but he’s on a business trip and he won’t be back for another two weeks.”
“Ma’am, have you seen a doctor?” Garret asked
“Oh no,” said Mrs. Ross. “It’s just a painful sprain! The problem is that it hurts so much I can barely walk and two days ago I ran out of food.”
“You haven’t eaten in two days?” gasped Garret. “What about your neighbors?”
Mrs. Ross shook her head. “We moved in a few months ago, and I don’t know anyone. I can’t walk to the store, it hurts so much… I didn’t tell my son because he’s just started this new job, I didn’t want to worry him.”
Mrs. Ross didn’t want to worry her son, so she ended up placing her life in danger.
“Mrs. Ross,” said Steve, “We are going to call you an ambulance to take you to the hospital.”
“No!” cried Mrs. Ross, with tears in her eyes. “Please don’t do that! I’ve been afraid of ambulances since my husband passed away. He died in one. Please!”
Garret and Steve looked at each other. “Well, ma’am, it’s not the procedure, but how about we drive you to the hospital ourselves?”
“But all I need is some groceries,” said Mrs. Ross. “And I have money…”
“Come, ma’am,” said Steve. “We’ll just have you looked over, then we’ll take you grocery shopping, okay?”
Mollified, Mrs. Ross allowed the officers to escort her to their vehicle and gently settle her into the back seat. Minutes later they were at the local hospital and the officers were explaining Mrs. Ross’ situation.
The emergency room doctor examined Mrs. Ross’ shoulder and asked for an X-ray. “It’s only a sprain,” she protested, but the doctor shook his head and looked worried.
“Mrs. Ross,” the doctor said. “I know you’re hungry, but I’m going to ask you to wait a little longer until I see your X-rays.”
The doctor was right. Mrs. Ross had a severe fracture in her arm, and to her shoulder, and ended up being wheeled in for emergency surgery. The two officers who had gone off-duty returned to the hospital a few hours later.
The doctor told them that Mrs. Ross’ surgery had gone well and that she was resting comfortably. “She was so hungry,” said Steve. “Had she eaten?”
The doctor shook his head. “Not yet, because of the anesthesia, but she’s on an IV. When she wakes up, we’ll feed her.”
The two officers called Mrs. Ross’ son and explained the situation. The man was frantic. He explained that he was in Alaska, and three days from the nearest airport, but the officers assured him they would be looking after his mother’s welfare.
When Mrs. Ross woke up, Garret and Steve were sitting by her bedside. “Oh!” she whispered. “You’re still here?”
“Yes,” said Garret, and we’ll be here until your son arrives. He’s on his way and very worried about you.”
Mrs. Ross shook her head. “He’s going to be scolding me…”
“Well,” said Steve grinning, “we’ll protect you! Now, the nurse said you can have a little soup if you feel like it.”
Over the next three days, the two officers became a familiar sight in the hospital ward. They took turns visiting Mrs. Ross in the evenings and brought her little treats and flowers. Her health improved, and she became stronger. By the time her son arrived, she was ready to be discharged.
“Mom,” cried her son. “I don’t think I can forgive myself for leaving you all alone!”
“I wasn’t alone, David,” said his mother. “Steve and Garret have been visiting me twice a day every day.”
“Steve and Garret?” asked David bewildered. “Who are they? Neighbors?”
“They’re the police officers who answered my call for help,” said Mrs. Ross. “They’ve become dear friends.
That evening, David met the two police officers for the first time. “Thank you,” he said with tears in his eyes. “You saved my mother’s life, and you’ve been so supportive. Thank you!”
“That’s all right, sir,” said Steve. “It’s all in a day’s work.”
“Just doing our job, serving and protecting the community,” said Garret. “And besides, we know how stubborn mothers can be…So we kept an eye on her to keep her out of trouble.”
Mrs. Ross was released from the hospital and was soon back on her feet, but Steve and Garret became frequent visitors and great friends of the family.