It was just a routine call. Someone was having difficulty breathing at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard.
calls had come in before when people had collapsed on the street as
they waited to catch a glimpse of their singing idol. 'The call was
received by the normal procedure', said Charlie Crosby, an emergency
medical technician. 'We only knew it was his house'. But this time it
When Crosby and Ulysses Jones Jr., the two
emergency medical technicians who handled the call, drove their
ambulance up the drive to Graceland, they were taken straight to Elvis
Presley's bedroom, where he lay unconscious. With him were his doctor,
George Nichopoulos and about 12 members of Presley's staff.
there through the estimated seven-minute trip from the Whitehaven
mansion to Baptist Hospital they worked at reviving him with
cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), but there was 'no response', Crosby
From the beginning it looked bad.
'CPR is given when
there is reason to believe that there is no heartbeat and no breath'. An
hour later they returned to their fire station at 2147 Elvis Presley
Boulevard, where reporters were trickling in and anxious conversations
were being held between men and their superiors about how much they
About 10 fire fighters were watching a medical program
on television and were joking among themselves. There was scattered
conversation about Presley and some speculation about what had happened.
'He was 42, I know because that's how old I am', one said. The men were
as curious about finding out the details as the reporters. Radio
stations were already carrying reports that Presley was dead, but the
television that the fire fighters were watching had not confirmed the
When Crosby and Jones entered the station house, their
colleagues asked reporters to leave so they could hear what happened.
'The lieutenant told me I couldn't even tell my mother', Crosby said
Eventually Crosby and Jones were given permission to tell
the bare details of their experience. Fire fighters and journalists
gathered around tables to hear what little they could while the radio
played Elvis Presley songs.
By Katherine Barrett - August 17, 1977