On Wednesday I was meeting a friend for lunch when my phone rang. It was my daughter’s school principal telling me that Grace had fallen on the playground and hurt her back. The nurse and others were keeping her immobilized while they waited for the paramedics to arrive. I told the principal I would be there in 10 minutes.
On my way, a fire truck passed me. I knew it was headed to the school because I know that fireman are frequently the first respondents to an emergency. I made it to the playground and saw Grace lying still under the slide. She was up on her side, and covered with a blanket. It was a bit scary to see her like that, but she was calm and lucid. Apparently she was on the wooden platform of a play structure and slipped on someone’s coat. She fell off the edge, about five feet to the ground, and hit her back and neck on the structure on the way down. The impact with the ground did not appear to cause any injury.
The firemen made it to the playground and did a preliminary check of her condition and put a brace on Grace’s neck to keep it still. She described the pain to them as a “7.” Soon the paramedics arrived and secured Grace to a board for transport. Another girl was having a severe asthma attack, and also needed to go to the hospital. Grace, the other girl, one of the paramedics and I rode in the back of an ambulance (my first ride ever) to the hospital.
We pulled up to the ER and Grace, and the transport board she was riding on, were put on a rolling hospital bed and taken inside. After checking in we were rolled down to the exam room. All this time I had been trying to get in touch with Grace’s mom, but was unable to. The endless stream of people came in. Two nurses, an admissions person, a resident, a med student and eventually a doctor. Everybody asked the same questions, and Grace calmly repeated the answers.
There was one bit of confusion when Grace told the resident that her head hurt. I know that part of the exam is to see how Grace responds to questions, but I intervened on this one and told Grace to tell the residence why her head hurt. From lying on this board, she said. The resident took this to mean that Grace did not get hurt in the fall, so we had to straighten all that out. The doctor led a brief exam and determined that she had some bony tenderness in her mid and lower back, as well as her neck. He would evaluate further after xrays.
They rolled Grace down the hall for a series of xrays of her neck and back, including one weird shot where the tech had her open her mouth so they could see her spine at the back of her head. While we were in the xray room, Grace’s mom showed up. I had finally been able to get in touch with her and tell her where we were, but she had never gotten any messages from school, so she didn’t know what had happened. I filled her in and we went back to a different exam room. This one was bigger, since Grace now had both parents with her.
After the doctor reviewed her xrays, and Grace did some mobility tests (turn your head this way, now that way), she was released. The doctor told her to take is easy, and that she might be sore. She had completely recovered and was fine at school the next day.
Here’s a link to the rest of the photos on Flickr.