Somewhere on Broad Street a man finishes his "half," stumbles around for a bit, then falls into the street, striking his head on the pavement. A couple of ladies on their way to their job cleaning houses on the East Side witness the event, and call 911. Their call goes to Rhode Island's 911 center in Scituate. One of the ladies gets out of the car to help the fallen man, the other stays on her cell phone. She speaks limited English, but is able to tell the 911 operator she is in Providence and a man has fallen. The operator forwards the call to the Providence Fire Department dispatch office.
In the meantime, the man who fell goes into a seizure. The lady on the phone, who speaks limited English to begin with loses her ability to communicate in her second language as soon as the tension escalates, and tries to tell the dispatcher a man is down, but the dispatcher does not speak Spanish.
A connection is made to California, where a language line is added to the mix, their first question upon answering the call is related to account numbers so that the proper person will be billed the twenty dollars per minute.
The lady who initiated the call has been on the line for nearly five minutes now, and is watching a man bleeding and seizing on the sidewalk. She panics, and says, LOUDLY (in Spanish) so that the person on the other end of the line gets it that she needs medical help, NOW.
The dispatcher still does not know where the person is. Wireless calls do not have GPS capabilities yet in RI for 911 calls, but through the third party, at twenty dollars a minute, they are able to figure out that the person is calling from Broad Street, "near McDonalds" and somebody is bleeding.
There are two Macdonald's restaurants on Broad Street in Providence, one on one end, the other on the other.
The lady on the phone hangs up.
Seven minutes have passed since the man fell. The dispatcher knows that a man is bleeding on Broad Street near McDonalds. He doesn't know where the person is bleeding from, how much he is bleeding, whether or not the bleeding is a direct result of gunfire, big knives, rabid dogs, angry mobs or an intoxicated man who fell.
The tones at two of the city's stations go off:
"Rescue 1 and Engine 13, Respond to 1365 Broad Street for a man down, possibly bleeding, nature unknown, stage for police."
"Can you believe these morons at dispatch? All they have to do is answer phones and they can't even get that right," says an angry Lieutenant Morse, as he heads toward the scene.