We attended a 39 year old man who was carrying some boxes down the stairs. His visibility was limited, and as he went down the stairs, he missed a step. Down he went and rolled down the remaining 5 stairs. He received a serious head injury, as well as a compound fracture in his right ankle (the bone was sticking through the skin). He needed surgery and was not able to go back to his job for 8 weeks.
It’s the Sudden Stop A week before I started writing this, a man fell off a 6 foot ladder at work and landed on his head. He died two days later.
In 1848, Phineas Gage was working for the Rutland & Burlington Railroad. While at work, an explosion hurled a 3 foot, 7 inch long – and over one and a quarter inch in diameter – crowbar at him. The bar entered his left cheek and exited through the top of his head, flying another 25 yards before stopping!
We attended a 56 year old man who was lying in a parking lot and complaining that he could not move his legs. We examined him and found that he had no movement, feeling or sensation in his legs. This was serious. In the hospital he was in the same condition. He was admitted and, five days later, started to regain use of his legs. His paralysis wasn’t permanent. There was swelling around the spinal cord, putting pressure on it, and once the swelling went down…he was OK. A very lucky man!
We responded to a motor vehicle collision. When we arrived, we found we didn’t need the jaws of life to gain access to the injured because the right side of the car was torn open. An 8 year old boy was lying on top of his 35 year old dad. Both of them were on the floor in the back seat. Both were dead. Several days later, a police officer who had worked on the case told me more. After the crash, the police went to the small apartment where the man and his son lived to deliver the news to the wife. The woman couldn’t speak English, so the police had to find someone to translate. Two hours passed before the translator arrived. You could see the fear in the woman’s face because she didn’t have to be told, in her native tongue, that something was terribly wrong. She took the news very hard. Who wouldn’t? The police learned that the family had arrived from Poland several months earlier and that the bereaved woman didn’t know a soul in the city. Her husband and only child were dead, and she was alone.
Several years ago I was involved in a situation for which I have to take full responsibility. I was getting ready for a night shift at the firehall. As I was walking out to the van, I slipped on some ice on the sidewalk.
We were told to respond to a house where the 911 dispatcher said two young children were screaming hysterically in the front yard.
We attended a man who tripped on an air hose that was lying on the floor by his work bench.
I was speaking to a group of safety professionals at a conference and since it was early December, I talked about the number of people who are injured every year from falling off stepladders while putting up their outside Christmas lights. After my talk, two safety professionals came up and quietly told me how they had both become injured in the same way. One of them admitted he had actually been standing on the ‘THIS IS NOT A STEP’ warning (how many times have you done this?). He lost his balance and fell, knocking himself unconscious. He would have frozen to death if the neighbor’s child hadn’t gone home and asked his mother why Mr. Smith was sleeping on the sidewalk.
This article is written to get you thinking, nothing else. I have attended a lot of emergencies and I can tell you this – the people who were prepared for an emergency fared much better than the ones who weren’t prepared. Children and adults have died because they weren’t prepared, so please think about the following. If emergencies happened only when you expected and were prepared for them, they wouldn’t be emergencies.