Friday, July 17, 2009


Are you good in an emergency?? Most parents are out of necessity. Children love to test a parents readiness as first responders. That seems to be their major job as a mini adult.

The sad thing about our stability in emergencies is that it is unknown till tested. We may think we will be wonderful at the car accident, leaping in to give CPR and putting pressure on a bleed,but actuality may be far different. Some people are worthless and require emergency attention themselves during panic times. Such as, some husbands in the birthing room.

Now that may be unfair to those Dads who end up viewing birth from a prone position. I mean face it women, you really aren't seeing what is going on and are in too much pain and anger at that inconsiderate dolt that got you pregnant, to care about a little gore.

Others are brilliant in emergency, remaining calm and helpful as though that is totally natural. I do envy them. Then there are people, like myself, who have time limits on their ability to function as body parts are hanging by a thread. It wasn't until adult years that I could recognize a pattern in my responses to disaster. Prior to that, each puddle of blood brought on a different reaction.

As a young child, pricking my own blood blister could make me instantly hit the dirt, totally unconscious. A friend could split open his scalp on a swing and I would just be curious, pushing in to get a closer look before I kissed the earth.

Eventually, I developed a consistent reaction. That was, that I could be calm and helpful to a point but as soon as someone in authority took over, the world would spin and if I didn't get down quick, I was going to crash to the ground in a heap. I was tested often enough to prove this point.

One time, coming upon a motorcycle accident and another time helping a man who had suffered a heart attack, I was really tested. Both times, I could give first aid and comfort the victim or in the case of the heart attack, give CPR. However the minute the EMT arrived, I was useless and almost in need of care myself. Now you fellows that I maligned about the birthing room can enjoy a resounding, "AH HA!! Not so easy is it?"

This became more evident as I ran the animal shelter. The shelter was my equivalent to raising uncoordinated kids. There were the inevitable dog fights, rescuing dogs in horrific condition and the roadside car attack rescues. I learned to pinch flesh together, put pressure on bleeding wounds and push intestines back into the stomach cavity, all while driving a stick shift on the way to the veterinary.

Don't know if you have read the James Herriot series but if you are an animal lover, they are very worth while. They are warm, funny, true stories of a veterinary in England. My vet reminded me very much of James Herriot and was also named Jim. We had a great relationship. His wife once told me that Jim's response when I called was that it had to be serious and he would hurry to meet me.

Many a night, we would be in his surgery with me helping him ever so briefly as he glued a dog back together or searched for the cause of the animal's distress. My consistent response now is that I will hold it together as long as there is no one else to do it. As soon as a EMT puts his hand on a person or a vet puts his hand on an animal, it is now his responsibility. My task is done and I am no longer required to remain conscious. All those things previously keeping me upright, buckle and leave me looking for a soft spot to crash. Now that I know my routine, I seldom hit the floor hard.

Usually with Jim, as soon as he lifted the dog onto the examination table, I would just say "Excuse me," then lay flat on the floor, looking up at him and the bottom of the table. Jim would just laugh as we continued with a normal conversation regarding the progress he was making with the animal. So I guess you could say I am a functional first responder, just not good for the long run. We all can only do what we can with what we have been given.

And how are you in an emergency??


  1. At the sight of blood, mine or others, I generally am horizontal. I ask to lie down when they draw blood, especially if I'm fasting.

    The "leech" room, as I call the lab is usually full of quizzical patrons.

    My best friend is an excellent cook and journalist who writes for an area newspaper, the Baxter Bulletin. She multitasks in many areas, but her shining role is food editor. You can see her work on line every Wednesday at .

    But she is somewhat klutzy with knives, not somewhat, but extremely klutzy.

    One day she called, "I've sliced my finger and need to go to doctor NOW; I can't drive!"

    After a long pause and my part (knowing my fainting problem, she knew what I was thinking--how can I drive passed out?--) she said "Oh!, I'll wrap it in a thick towel and hold it out the window."

    So I picked her up, and we proceeded 4 blocks with a nearly blood soaked towel arm hanging out the window.

    I'm sure the locals were regaling the spectacle in the coffee shops before we ever got to the physician's office.

    It is a tale she tells on me to this day.

  2. Nitwit,
    You are a true friend. My definition of a friend is one who is your friend when it isn't easy to be a friend.That day it wasn't easy for you to be her friend but you came through. Way to go.
    Funny story today, not sure it was then, especially to the coffee shops you flashed. Must have been a sight.

  3. I do pretty well in the presence of gore, mine or that of others. My children's accidents seemed always to be bloody, and I guess I just took care of them, blood or no blood. My eldest daughter, a registered nurse, does well with other people's blood (a good thing), but will slip to the floor unconscious if she looks at her own blood. We all have strange reactions.

  4. That is so interesting, Patti....And pretty amazing that you got to the place where you could actually do what was needed and then, when help came--collapse, so to speak.

    It depends on the to how good I am. Many years ago, my I was sitting by the pool with one of my dear friends while her son---my God Child----was at the other end of the pool, in the shallow end...Sudden;y I saw that he was in trouble---his mother had not seen this. I ran and jumped in and saved him from drowning. But there have been other times when I have just been totally useless, and I'm not sure what the difference is, except somehow I felt very confident around and in the water....Some other situations---NOT so confident. It's not the siught of blood. I'm okay with that....Frankly, I am not sure what makes the difference.

  5. I have to admit I have never fainted a single time in my whole life. Unfortunately I have to stay on my feet and endure the whole bad ordeal.

    I need to work on that, fainting sounds better.

  6. I'm usually pretty good with emergency type incidents, but given the choice I'd rather not see the bloody stuff. I obtained my EMT license back in the late 90s, but never used it. I decided becoming an emergency dispatcher was more suited to my personality. Ten years later....

    I do despise going to the vampire, I mean phlebotomist, and get all shaky and sweaty just thinking about it. I do enjoy the dentist, however. I guess that comes from having a dental hygienist for a wife and being her guinea pig through school.

    I can honestly say I have never passed out. Thankfully.

  7. Pat
    Parenthood does wonders for the ability to stand gore. Odd that your daughter is a nurse but can't stand her own blood. Everyone has unique reactions.

    OOLOH, Wonderful that you were aware that day. Drownings can happen so darn quick.
    You certainly took your job as God parent seriously.

    As long as you pick a soft spot to crash, it does get you out of unpleasant things. I am still learning how to "swoon" like a proper lady. I tend to go down like an unfortunate prize fighter.

    At least with your training, you know what to do. Most of us rely on TV shows to get us through an emergency.Not a good idea.
    Good thing your wife wasn't learning to be a phlebotomist. She could have drained you dry practicing.
    You must have sparkling teeth.

  8. Hi Patti, I have never been in an emergency situation before--not a serious one. I do know that I could never be a nurse or doctor. When I have blood work done, I can't watch them stick a needle in my arm. I have to look away!!!!!

    I think I would be helpful in many situations ---but I'm not sure I'd be good in an emergency situation where someone was really hurt. Think I would 'freeze'....


  9. I am usually pretty good in an emergency, and I may crumble when it's over - but I am the rock of Gibraltar during a crisis.

    I haven't been tested lately and I hope I am not. LOL

  10. You are hillarious. Okay now you got my curiosity up. How long are you out for during the long haul sessions?

  11. Betsy,
    How wonderful that you have never been tested and hope it stays that way.
    As for freezing, I once did but that was in a violent situation for a later post.

    We basically have the same programming except you probably make it all the way to the conclusion of the emergency where I bail as soon as help arrives. We still get the job done don't we?

    Welcome to TNS and thanks for chuckling along. Since I learned just when my swooning would occur, I avoid it by getting prone and viewing the world from the floor till the urge passes. You really get a different perspective of things from the floor.