Today, I went to pick up an elderly gentleman to take him to dialysis. On my sheet, it said that he had a walker. Most folks with walkers that we pick up can at least climb up and down the steps with very little assistance, though we do have those who use the walker who know they cannot get up and down the stairs, so they request use of the lift. We have no problem letting the lift down for folks who need it and require it. It can be operated while the client is standing, holding onto the support bars on the side for stability, or while the client is in a wheelchair.
This gentleman came out with his walker and was pushing it down the ramp. He gets to the bus and I ask him if he can get up the stairs, or if I need to let down the lift for him to get on. He tells me, "I can make it up the stairs." So, taking him at his word, we progress to the entrance of the bus. He lifts his right leg up to the first step and grips the handrail of the stairs, then he tries to push and get his left leg up. He can't quite make it so he asks me for, "a little push."
I position myself behind him and go to help stabilize him to get his second foot up and he curls up and pretty much leans back into me, letting go of the hand rails of the bus. I caught him under his armpits and gently lowered him to the ground. I then got in front of him and positioning the walker with a seat behind him, I thought if we could at least get him up to the walker seat, he might be able to scootch himself up onto the seat and back up to standing position. Then I could let the lift down, and let him ride up on the lift.
Down to the ground he goes again. He wanted to try crawling to the bus stairs and getting up that way. He still couldn't get himself up. By this point, I had made the judgement call to call someone for help. I dialed the non-emergency number and let the dispatch lady know that, while he was NOT hurt, we needed someone to come and help lift him up from the ground. About 10 minutes later, the fire chief and two of his firefighters showed up to help get him up off the ground. He rode the lift up and we got him to dialysis where I borrowed a wheelchair from the company and pushed him into the building.
In retrospect, the ramp should have been a clue that he could not manage stairs. I called the bossman and notified him of the incident and he informed me that I made the proper decision.
The Bus Driver