Friday, August 19, 2011

my first ever emergency services call

(fair warning, a few gory pictures below)

Our friends Chris and Isabelle Burkholder and their two daughters arrived Thursday afternoon to spend the week with us before they fly to the US for a couple of months and then head on to Mauritius.

Thursday afternoon, Frédéric was making dinner for all of us, and went outside to do something, while I was inside talking to Chris, when I heard Frédéric call me and say “It’s urgent!” I stopped mid-sentence and went running, to find his leg spurting blood all over the patio. It was every bit as lovely as it sounds. I ran to bring him a clean washcloth for him to hold on it while he applied pressure to try to stop the bleeding, and then I got to make my very first call to the pompiers (the English translation for that is "firemen" but they are also EMTs/paramedics). Thank goodness for speaking French! Actually, this was my first emergency call ever, as I've never made one in the US.

When I called, I explained to a first person, who told me to have him apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth (he already was), and then transferred me over to the SAMU (emergency) doctor line instead, I explained to a second person there, who told me to have him apply pressure with a clean, dry cloth (he still was), and said she'd let me speak to the SAMU doctor - he picked up and just said he was sending the pompiers and hung up.

During this whole time, Frédéric continued to apply pressure to no avail.

I had told the first person about our house being inaccessible through the village due to bridge construction, but that message didn't get get passed on to the pompiers, so we heard the sirens get closer, and closer... and stop. And finally heard them again, so I stood outside to let them know where we were.

They arrived maybe 10-12 minutes after we called. Frédéric's leg was still spurting out blood like a hose (very literally, if he stopped applying pressure to check on it, it sent a fountain out 2 or 2 1/2 feet away!). So the pompiers bandaged him up and then he won a trip to the hospital to try and really stop the bleeding, and make sure he didn't lose consciousness or anything. I followed in the car, and Chris and Isabelle were kind enough to keep the boys and finish making the half-prepared dinner to feed them while we were gone.

We don’t know what happened exactly. Frédéric was back in the garden, and we guess he scratched his leg on a stick holding up some of the beans or something, but he didn't feel anything. He bled for a while without noticing, leaving a trail of gore behind him, then went into the shed to look for a trowel, saw blood all over the place, and figured he had stepped on a mouse!! He finally figured out HE was the source of all that blood and that is when he went into action putting pressure on it and calling me. The patio looked like a crime scene, as did the shed and the green bean patch.

Scene of the crime, the green bean patch

What *really* happened in the shed?? Hoping CSI doesn't pay us a visit!

At the hospital, I went in the ER to fill out his paperwork, then they sent me out to the waiting room while they checked him out, and then they called me back in to explain what was going on, and how they were trying to stop the bleeding, and let me wait for 45 minutes with him until the doctor could be sure whether the bleeding had stopped and it was ok to let him go home.

Start to finish the whole thing was less than 2.5 hours (including a 20 min drive each way to the hospital and a 45 min wait in the hospital just making sure it had really stopped bleeding), and the EMTs & ER staff were great.

Friday, on the ER doctor's very strong recommendation, we saw a phlebotomist, who checked out the varicose vein, and who is contacting a surgeon for him. So Frédéric will call the surgeon Monday and will have surgery to fix (remove) the vein. Since he stands, walks, and climbs stairs all day long, the ER doctor and phlebotomist decided to keep him off work this week so the hole in his leg can heal up properly.

While at the hospital, I unintentionally made a joke....

The doctor asked if I wanted some water or orange juice.
I said, "No, I'm fine, thanks."
Then she said, "Scotch?"
I said, "No, better not if I have to drive him home."

Everyone was cracking up... I thought *she* was joking, saying maybe I needed something stronger after watching my husband lose all that blood. What I didn't even realize until we got home and Frédéric was telling our friends about my joke, is that she wasn't talking to me at all, she was asking her assistant for tape for the bandage. Oops! 

I also let Frédéric know at the hospital that I was on to him.... what some people won't do to get out of working in the yard, AND to get an evening away from the kids!

Collateral damage on the ash-can


Kerrie said...

Oh, my goodness!!! I'm so glad that Frederic is okay (though I'm quite mystified that he didn't notice such a wound... kind of like those women who say they didn't realize they were pregnant until their water broke!), and that the medics found their way through your village to your home and took such great care of him there and at the hospital. What a scare, but you handled it beautifully (I just hope you had a Scotch or something similar when you got home!).

Anonymous said...

I love the unintentional joke. I am glad that Frederic is ok and the whole paramedic and hospital experience was a positive one.