Posted by: dhkrause | December 10, 2017

My Wife, the First Responder


Marla circa 1984

Dad and Kevi, circa 1989

             Marla, circa 1984                                      Dad & Kevi, circa 1988

It amazes me how my wife Marla is able to quickly assess an emergency situation and take exactly the actions needed.  No wonder our eldest son Kevi was drawn to become a paramedic, where these very same instincts are essential to the job.  I remember a particular occasion when they joined together to prevent an accident in progress from getting much worse.

The incident occurred when Kevi was in his early twenties and had been working as a paramedic and volunteer fireman.  Kevi, Marla and I, plus several of his siblings were on a family outing to a park with a barbecue pit, where we were planning to enjoy a lunch together.  One of us had made the mistake of bringing propane fuel in lieu of fuel specifically designed for use with coals.  As Kevi was heating the coals for cooking, he decided to speed things up by pouring about an ounce of propane onto the coals from a Styrofoam cup.

Immediately, the flames followed the vapor trail to his hand and the next moment his shirt was ablaze.  Kevi dropped to the dirt and began rolling to extinguish flames, while the rest of us stood there staring in horror.  All of us, that is, except Marla.  She raced over to him and began swatting his shirt just below the neckline where his rolling was not stopping the flames.  Kevi yelled, “Leave me alone, I know what to do!”  Ignoring his plea, she kept swatting the flames in that area until they were out.

We doused the burned areas with water, and then I drove Kevi to the nearest hospital which was not far away.  The ER nurse who met us razzed him a little when he gave her a quick synopsis of the accident.  She said, “You, a paramedic and fireman, poured propane on a fire?”  They gave him the best treatment they could for his burns which fortunately were minor compared to what they might have been.  In the weeks to come, the last place to heal completely was the spot just below his neckline where the fire had burned the longest.  Kevi was a brave and uncomplaining patient through it all.

We were all grateful  that his burns turned out to be relatively minor, and that his skin healed quickly.  What impressed me most about this incident, apart from the bad judgments that caused it, was the way Marla instantly assessed the situation, saw what was needed, and leapt to do the most needful thing, as one “first responder” to another.

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