"I felt the house shake with a bang." What it's like being deaf in an emergency.

A real-life emergency story from MammaMia Australia about Bec. She was diagnosed with a bilateral mild loss at three years old and began wearing hearing aids at five. Bec received her first cochlear implant late 2017 and wears a hearing aid.

Editor comment

When I remove my Cochlear Implant processor, I am very much in a world of silence. I enjoy this solitude but also, it’s essential to be careful. As I travel a lot, I am dependent on other people to alert me. For example, if I’m in a hostel, I will make the owner aware of my hearing impairment.

This story struck a chord with me as it’s my worst fear. What would you do in case of an emergency? What procedures do you have in place? I’d be interested in getting a discussion going on this subject.

Bec’s story

Late February I was home alone. Having just finished working at home for the day, I headed upstairs to my room. Just as I reached the landing I felt the house shake with a bang. I looked out the window ahead of me and saw white smoke. ‘There must be car accident outside,’ I thought. ‘Maybe they hit the house?’

I ran back down and found nothing outside, then I looked up and saw that the smoke was pouring out from my bedroom window. Back up the stairs, I found my bed blazing.

I quickly thought through what to do in a fire.
1. Water: it could be electrical, and water could make that worse;
2. Smother: it is too big. I can’t safely smother it;
3. Cut off oxygen: the fire is between me and the window, I can’t close it – close the door and get out.

And number three is what I did. I closed my bedroom door and ran out of the house. As soon as I was outside, I knew I had to call 000 – but how?

The thing is, I am profoundly deaf.

I didn’t know there was a fire because I didn’t hear the fire alarm, and I can’t hear very well on the phone. The problem was my hands were shaking, and I knew it would take much longer to use the text-to-voice National Relay Service as I can speak faster than I can type. So, I jumped into the deep end and called using the normal telephone service. I think I mostly just spoke at the person on the other end. I remember just repeating “Fire, fire, my house is on fire.” Then rattling off my home address to make sure they had the information they need. I had a lot of trouble hearing on that phone call, but I’m sure I did the right thing in that moment.

Read the full article here:

If you like this article, you might like... The Cochlear Implant Animator. A fascinating interview with Animator and Director, Eric Giessmann, who talks about his path to success, losing his hearing and what inspired him to create the ‘Ciborg/Cochlear Implant animation.'

If you like this article, you might like… My rescue from isolation. A story about hearing loss and bouncing back with a Cochlear Implant.

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