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Safety Pro

Funny, but Deadly

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10/01/2011 - We have all heard of those 'incidents' that just about knock us out of our chairs laughing. You know, rescue calls that involve difficulty breathing only to find a 'patient' wearing too tight of a bodysuit and now can't get it off or can't breathe. Or, the fire department arriving at a home to attempt to remove a stuck big toe from the bathtub faucet. It truly makes us wonder what people are thinking, or not thinking, to have these types of calls occur.

But, there are lessons still to be learned and consequences resulting from those brain-dead moments. Every example below is a real emergency call; think how bad it could have been if conditions were just slightly different.

A bicyclist who was not following basic traffic rules (anyone reading this fit this category?) rode through an intersection with a traffic light. He struck the side of an ambulance and was thrown over the handle bars of the bike. Moments later, the ambulance crew packaged and delivered him to the emergency department with part of his lip, half his mustache, and one tooth lodged into the side metal strip of the outside of the ambulance.

A call I was on was toned out for a man that had been bitten by a stick. He was, shall we say, not sober and had clear teeth marks on both hands. He claimed that as he was walking (?) down the street, he decided to pick up a stick and it bit him. After three attempts with both hands, he was sitting on the edge of the curb looking for the 'stick' while waiting for us to arrive.

A person traveling at a high rate of speed drove a pick up truck through a farm fence on a country road. The broken post came through the windshield and lodged through the driver and the back of the front seat. We had to saw the post, unbolt the seat from the frame and take him – still 'skewered' to the seat – to the emergency department. Nine hours of surgery later, he was placed in intensive care and released the following week for home recovery.

Remember 'The Christmas Story' when one of the kids stuck his tongue to the winterized flagpole? As painful as that could be, we had a teenager stick her rolled tongue in the top of glass cola bottle and 'popped' it a couple of times. On her third time doing it, she created a vacuum and her tongue would not come out, no matter how hard or how many times she pulled. Of course, this caused it to swell, making it harder to remove. We broke the bottom out of the bottle to release the vacuum and her tongue came out. Unfortunately, for the amount of time it was stuck, she ended up having half of her tongue removed in surgery.

We don't always think about consequences when we choose to do something, but they are real. Have a safe day!

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com) is a 30+ year safety professional and emergency response instructor. Comments are always welcome.

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