One man’s experience with the Kaslo ER

I would like to share my story of how the Kaslo emergency room saved my life.

Re: “Kaslo ER on verge of part time hours”

I would like to share my story of how the Kaslo emergency room saved my life. Three years ago I got a small cut on my elbow playing hockey. A few weeks later I fell on the same elbow again, causing excruciating pain. I tried to sleep that night but the pain was too much so I went to the Kaslo emergency room at 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Dr. Frouws came in right away and was quite certain that I had possible fractures in my elbow by the amount of pain I was in. She prepared all the paperwork for an x-ray in Nelson as they were unable to do one in Kaslo and I was sent on my way.

My treatment in Nelson was less than professional, but not the point of this letter. I was sent home from Nelson later that afternoon with a prescription and told nothing was broken. I went to sleep as soon as I got home and stayed asleep for 18 hours. The next morning I woke up very lethargic. The pain was still quite bad, but now the cut was dripping puss. Soon after waking up, the sweats started and I would be literally dripping sweat, then five minutes later, freezing cold. Five minutes after that, sweating, and so on. My wife called up to the Kaslo emergency and explained my symptoms to the receptionist. She encouraged my wife to bring me in. The nurse on duty was Georgie Humphries and as soon as she saw me, she was certain they were dealing with septic shock.

Georgie and another nurse got an IV started, had me hooked up to the heart monitor and were prepping me for transportation within minutes. Dr. Frouws was called in and was there within 10 minutes. These three ladies acted very quickly and had me in an ambulance within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital. During this time they were pumping me full of antibiotics and stabilizing me, as upon my arrival I wasn’t stable enough to be put into an ambulance. They were super professional and caring. To be honest, they were so cool about everything that my wife and I had no idea what kind of trouble I was truly in. In Nelson, I was transferred to a second ambulance that took me to Trail. Upon arrival I was taken straight in and up to surgery. The doctors called my wife from my cell phone so I could tell her I loved her on the way into the OR as they were sure I wasn’t coming out of it. And if I did it was without an arm.

The surgeons saved my arm. I was diagnosed with a strep A infection and spent 12 days in the hospital while undergoing five surgeries. The doctors at the Trail hospital credited the staff in Kaslo with saving my life. They told me that if I was five minutes later, they wouldn’t have been able to bring me back.

Without the emergency room in Kaslo and especially without 24 hour, seven day a week service, I would not be here to today to write this letter. It was their quick thinking, skillful diagnosis, organization and planning that put into motion all the events that lead to me keeping my life, and limb.

I now have five kids who I get to enjoy and play with. Without this service, I feel I would be putting my family’s lives in danger by continuing to live in this area. Most likely, without an emergency room in Kaslo, I will be forced to move my family away which would also have a direct effect on the school system, community activities and economy. I also know we are not the only family that feel this way. So I encourage Interior Health to reconsider removing this service from our area.

Kenneth Austin, Kaslo