Until you need it, an Emergency Medical First Aid Kit may be the farthest thing from your mind.
But the moment you need it, there is nothing more crucial.
Guest post from Kristine M Smith, author, DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories
I came this close to learning a brutal lesson with a tragic ending, so forgive me if I come across as some kind of crusading zealot. When you hear the story, you’ll understand completely. What you learn here will probably save someone’s life… maybe even your own.
Just over ten years ago while on holiday, I was camped in a remote area with family members. Bright morning sunshine winked over a nearby hill as several of us exited tents and headed for the coffee pot perched over a crackling campfire.
As we exchanged morning greetings and pleasantries, my sister’s strapping six foot two inch son Phil–chiseled into Adonis-like shape by hard scrabble football practice–strode over to the edge of the clearing to pick up another armload of firewood. Suddenly, he bellowed “Ouch!” I looked over to find him slapping at the back of his neck.
I called out, “Phil! What happened?”
Recovering, he said dismissively, “Oh, nothing. Just got stung by a bee.” He continued to rub the base of his skull.
OK. No biggy, I thought.
Less than two minutes later, Phil was still rubbing his neck, and now he was pacing and opening and closing his fists.
I was just weeks out from having taken an Emergency First Responder and Disaster Preparedness course at my workplace, Warner Bros Studios in Hollywood. I stood, walked over to my nephew, and looked into his eyes. Sweat was beading on his forehead. He looked more than a little bit haunted.
Concerned, I asked him, “Are you okay?”
He said, “I don’t know. My hands are going numb.”
Trying not to panic (first responders aren’t supposed to heighten another’s worry by compounding it with their own), I asked him, “Are you allergic to bees?”
He answered, “I don’t know. I don’t think so…”
To make a long, scary story short, he was allergic to bees, he had no epinephrine syringe on him, and the nearest emergency room was six impossibly long miles away.
My dad and I put Phil into the car. Dad took the wheel; I got into the back seat.
Minute by minute, my nephew faded. He would report, “I can’t feel my legs… my arms are going numb… I can’t see… I can’t breathe.” His skin was beginning to blotch and swell. While I watched, Phil was slipping closer and closer to death at age 20.
We bumped over railroad tracks less than a mile away from the campground. The car died. I gasped. Dad got out, to try to wire it together again from underneath the hood. I had been taught that time was of the essence so I whispered to Dad, “I’m going to flag down a passing car. We’re running out of time.” Dad blustered, “Now, don’t go ape on me! I can get the car started.” I ignored him and started thumbing.
The first car I flagged sped by, as did the second. Thankfully (and maybe because by now I was standing half on the roadway, desperate for help), a third car came to a halt, albeit hesitantly. The vehicle was a sporty two-passenger model driven by a lady who looked close to 60 years old. I quickly told her, “My nephew was stung by a bee and is going into anaphylactic shock. Can you drive him to the emergency room?” She said, “Oh, yes! I was just on my way to mass. I know where the emergency room is.”
I guided my by-now blind nephew into the two-seater and off he went with a total stranger. Dad was still working on the car. I jogged back to camp and commandeered another vehicle and my mom, desperate to get to the hospital to see if Phil had made it in time. Dad was still under the hood as we sped by.
As we entered the hospital parking lot, the angel who had taken on the task of ferrying Phil came through the emergency room doors and assured us, “He’s going to be all right.” I sighed and cried, hugging her. Then she confessed, “The doctors said that if we had come in just two minutes later, there is nothing they could have done for him.” I nearly collapsed.
These days, I have “dedicated” first aid kits by Survival Emergency Products® in my home, vehicle and office. Each is filled with essential items. And one small section of each kit is reserved for personal items. In my personal pouch are prescribed medications.
Phil has a first aid kit, too. In his personal pouch is an Epi-pen because even though he received a series of desensitization shots, he may still need epinephrine if he’s ever stung again… and now he has two young daughters who may share his susceptibility. We know, all too well, the dangers of being unprepared.
If you don’t have a well-stocked first aid kit, one that includes space for unique personal items, you are running the very real risk of going through something like I did… one with a far more brutal ending. Don’t risk it.
Oh. And just so you know: Tomorrow may be too late.
Do it now… before something else steals your attention.