Friday, March 11, 2011

Emergency Services

A freak accident today brought me face to face with one aspect of Homer I'd never thought about before: its emergency medical services. Relegated to "A service I won't ever need," I appreciated the speed of response of the EMT's and ambulance. Here's what happened:

We were in the kitchen cooking when I noticed a pan of hot grease smoking. I grabbed it to move to a cool burner and the hot grease splashed my hand. After the most bloodcurdling scream I've ever screamed in my life, I immediately turned on the water and shoved my hand under the stream, told Aurora to call 911 and I proceeded to give the dispatcher the basic info of address, phone number and injury. I chuckled mentally when they asked for directions in addition to the address; the side streets around Homer are a maze and roads look like driveways or houses have no driveways or any other set of weird scenarios.

While waiting for the ambulance (which I thought was overkill but they have to send one) I called Douglas and left a message on his cell phone and then pulled off my wedding band, at which I sent up another scream as the skin sloughed off. I started feeling sweaty and woozy, and it seemed an eternity but was only minutes before Douglas called back and headed home and then a strange car came inching down our icy driveway. It was the first EMT on the scene. Within a minutes two more vehicles pulled up, spitting out EMTs, then my husband peeled in (wondering at the party with so many vehicles) and a minute or two after that the emergency medical truck and the ambulance completed the entourage.

EMTs number two and three assessed the burn and dressed it, we declined transport in the ambulance, filled out paperwork and hopped in the car to head to the hospital.

The emergency room was expecting us, got me right into a room, cut off the bandage, applied a moist saline covering to keep the burn from drying out and then the small town social whirl started.

First one of the nurses walked in and introduced herself as the neighbor across the street (one of the few neighbors we hadn't met), and by time she left we'd signed our kids up to mow her huge lawn come summer.

Then the doctor came in to assess the wound. When he found out Douglas is vice principal at the high school he said, "I need to talk to him." Apparently this doctor pledges money to Homer High School sports teams if the kids stay drug and alcohol free. We had a great conversation while he snipped away my sloughed skin and bandaged up my hand.

I put Douglas to the task of calling our church's prayer chain, his parents and my aunt to get them all praying, to me as essential as dressing the wound.

Before I left they'd made my appointment to see a family doctor tomorrow (yes, on Saturday!) to change my dressing and continue monitoring progress (the severity of a burn is not always immediately evident and I may need therapy to regain full range of motion). An hour in the emergency room ended up being a fast, fun social hour, not something one can normally say about ER visits. It helped that there was virtually no pain, a fact the attending nurse could not believe (she said I should be screaming in agony considering the severity of the burn).

I kept expecting the pain to hit all afternoon, but instead what little pain I had disappeared. I have now had the privilege to see up close what Homer's emergency services are like, and also what it is like to type an entire blog entry with one hand!

P.S. I assure you, you don't want a picture of this, though the hospital did take one!

No comments: