I was fast asleep... deep, deep sleep.... when... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!!
A bloody alarm sounded somewhere nearby. After a few seconds it stopped and I figured someone must have tripped a car alarm. Then... WAWAAWAAWAAAWAAAAAA!!!! It went off again... and stopped... and went.... and stopped.... Tommy woke up and cussed and after a few more repeats we were both cussing....grrrrr! It was 2:45am for goodness sake!! Tom got up saying he was going to do something about it.... not quite sure what, but we sure as heck weren't going to sleep with that racket going on!
I crawled across the bed and peered out the window to see if I could spot where the offending vehicle was but the noise seemed to be coming from further up the street. It was at that point something caught my eye, a flashing light. I could see through the small window above the bed that it was the alarm unit on my elderly neighbour’s house. I called out to Tom as I quickly hauled on trackpants and a sweatshirt... "It's Eunice's house alarm!"
"Has she gone away?" Tom asked as we both ran to Eunice's gate.
"Not that I know of...."
I helped Tom unlock the gate in the dark. "Do you think I should call the police?"
Tom nodded and went to check out the house. I ran back to our place and called 111. When my call was answered I explained the situation and stayed on the phone until Tom came back. He wasn't able to see anything, no apparent break in, but could hear a radio going inside. "I'm going to break a window to get in, she might be having a heart attack or a stroke!"
I relayed this to the phone operator who said they had a car on the way. When I asked if we should break in the advice I got wasn't particularly clear "Well someone might have to... there's a car on the way"
Tom swore when I relayed this to him... "She could be bloody dying in there! I'm going to break a window to get in!"
The police operator said they would end the call now but we should call back if the situation changed. We both ran back over to Eunice's and I started banging on the door and calling out.
Tom found a rock... "Don't break the door, there's another door inside the porch that might be locked, you'd have to break that too."
I was starting to feel quite panicked by this stage, what if she was lying inside needing help?
We both looked at a little window next to the deck... "Fûck it" Tom said raising the rock.... and paused... "Hang on... I think the porch light just came on, that wasn't on before was it?"
I shook my head, and as I turned to bang on the door again Eunice's head looked out through the inner door.
As she let us in she told us she couldn't turn the alarm off. Eunice's hearing isn't so great and she'd initially thought the siren was on the radio which she had going next to the bed. She hadn't heard Tom banging on the door initially and was a bit bewildered.
After both of us trying to punch in the alarm code unsuccessfully, we asked her what alarm company it was. "There's a sticker on the door...." she said.
By this time another neighbour had arrived. Tom found the company name and Eunice pulled out her phone book. I found the number and dialled.... bloody answer phone!! Never mind, there was a mobile number to contact so I tried that. A groggy voice answered and I explained the alarm was going and we couldn't shut it off. Eventually we established there was a manual override key to turn off the outdoor sirens. Eunice found the key and we got those shut off, at least it wasn't continuing to keep the whole neighbourhood awake any more! The indoor unit however was still emitting a very loud, shrill bleep constantly. The guy on the phone explained that the battery unit might have failed and we'd need to open the unit to disconnect it.
The police had arrived by now and poor Eunice was a bit shaky... "I'm going to call Ian, he'll come around and fix it". I tried to tell her that she didn't need to call him and we would get her sorted out - I figured there wasn't much point in waking more people up! While I was talking to the police and relaying the instructions from alarm guy Eunice did call Ian though. I can't really blame her, I think by now she really needed someone familiar to comfort her.
Tom went to get a screwdriver and the police, having ensured no-one was in danger, left us to it, as did the other neighbour. Tom opened up the control unit and removed the battery... nothing happened initially.... but then finally the piercing bleeping ceased! My poor ears were thankful!!
We put the jug on for a cup of tea... this was well needed by this stage. Tom went back home to warm the bed back up for me and I waited with Eunice until Ian arrived. She was worried that this incident will be used against her, “They’ll say this is another reason why I should move!”. I tried to tell her that it wouldn’t have mattered if she did live elsewhere, the alarm would still have failed – it was nothing to do with whether she is capable of living alone or not!
We poured a cuppa when Ian arrived and I explained to him what had happened. He will get someone in to replace the battery and give the whole system a look over. Eventually things settled down so I gave Eunice a hug and went back home.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep the rest of the night as my brain was working overtime but I must have managed about an hour or so because eventually another alarm woke me – the clock radio… at least this one was not unexpected!