July 8, 2016 was – as most Fridays are – a TGIF for me. After wading through the late evening traffic from Lekki through the Third Mainland Bridge, I was grateful to be finally home, located a few minutes’ walking distance from the Deeper Life Church in Gbagada. While looking forward to a blissful and restful weekend, I had a quick shower after my evening meal and headed for my bedroom. I must have started snoring before my head hit the pillow!
About 12.40 a.m., I was startled out of deep sleep by the loud ring of my cell phone. I was startled, not because of the call, but because my phone was usually either on mute or switched off before bedtime. But God had a purpose for the oversight. My younger brother, on the other end, was speaking rapidly, “Mama is very sick. She’s is not feeling well at all, she is behaving somehow and there is no vehicle to take her to the hospital”. I honestly don’t recall them, but I know that I asked him a few incoherent questions and made quite a number of unintelligible statements as I jumped out of bed! How was I to get across town from Gbagada to Ogba at that time of the early morning? I made a few distressed phone calls, one of which was to my cousin, a medical doctor with NIMASA who had a permanent ambulance attached to him. His phone rang endlessly. No response.
It was now about 1.10a.m., and both my brother and I were getting frantic. Through it all, I repeatedly muttered desperate, silent prayers under my breath. Suddenly, I remembered the Lagos State Toll Free Emergency Hotlines 112 and 767! Without a second thought, I dialed 112 and almost immediately, a female voice answered, “This is Lagos State 24/7 Emergency Service. What can I do for you?” In a calm voice, I hurriedly explained the situation to her. I ended my anguished plea with, “Please, don’t let my mum die”. I gave her a clear description of my mother’s College Road residence.
“I am going to contact the ambulance service now. There is no guarantee there will be one available, so I advise you make an alternative arrangement to take care of your mother. However, I will call the ambulance service” She said and the phone went dead.
I looked at the wall clock, 1.35a.m. Now, more confused and despondent and still muttering silent prayers under my breath, I started pacing about my home. I attempted my cousin’s number again, still no answer. Another call came in from my brother saying that our mother was now unconscious and motionless. As my mind raced in several directions, a myriad of horrible pictures flashed through it.
When, at 2.05 my phone rang again, I said to myself, “I hope the worst hasn’t happened!” It was a private number! Who could that be at this time of the night? I held the phone slowly to my ears. “Mr. Archibong? This is Lasambus – the Lagos State Ambulance Service. We are at the junction of Coker and College roads. Please, how do we get to your house?” “Wow! Seriously?” I actually said that! “Please drive down Coker Street, my brother will be standing outside the house waiting for you.” My joy was boundless; joy mixed with pleasant surprise. I instructed my brother to wait outside for the ambulance. By the time he called me back at 2.25a.m., they were already on their way to the hospital!
Glory be to God! Today, my mum is alive and well because our very own Akinwunmi Ambode is gradually and strategically developing a world class mega city with services and amenities comparable anywhere in the world!
Thanks and God bless you Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, for putting together a working and effective emergency response system that saved my mum from untimely death.