Emergency Kits and Kids Part 1

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This post comes as a request from a long time friend who is getting ready to be a daddy himself. We worked together for many years on a search and rescue team where we all were required to carry a 72 hour bag full of rescue, survival, and medical gear that we kept constantly at the ready for that unsuspecting moment the call for deployment went out. We were expected to be able to carry everything that we could need for 72 hours on our backs. Food, water, personal shelter, and clothing.

  
 All of this in addition to our search and rescue gear. As an old Boy Scout (I actually earned the Eagle Scout rank), the motto of “Be Prepared” has always rang true in my everyday life. As a new parent, this motto rang louder than ever because my wife and I found ourselves in numerous situations where we should have been more ready for the unknown. This is part 1 in a several part series on the different kits I have put together and keep on hand.

My daughter was only two weeks old. My wife and I were trying our best to fall into some semblance of a routine as new parents. Sleep deprived, and scatterbrained, we prepared to leave the house for the first time since coming home from the hospital to take my wife to her post partum appointment with her OB/GYN. My wife spent the better part of a half hour the night before prepping everything we could possibly need in the diaper bag. Diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, changing pad, nasal aspirator, diaper rash cream, formula, bottles, burp cloth, blanket, get the picture?

The next morning we were ready to go. Fueled with blind confidence and a sense of false security, we left the house for the doctor’s office. At the time, we lived in the country in an old farmhouse. It was an approximately 45 minute drive to the office. With the baby’s belly full, and a fresh diaper on her bottom, we strapped her into the car, and I triple checked the straps and latches to make sure the car seat was completely secured. Off we went. Upon arrival at the office, I helped my wife up out of the car and unhooked the car seat from the base. The baby was out cold in a milk coma. It was extremely windy that morning and the Spring air had quite a bite to it. Braving the elements we forced our way into the office.

“Whew! We made it!” I said.

“Yup! We’re here” my wife said breathing heavily. “Um….where’s the diaper bag?”

“I don’t have it. I thought you had it.”

“Ah…no. Didn’t you put it in the car when we left?”

“No…..I was carrying the baby! I thought YOU had it! Ok, Ok, don’t panic. We are almost an hour away from home, so going back for it really isn’t an option. She had a bottle before we left, and a fresh diaper, so she should be fine in time for us to get back home after your appointment.”

After signing in at the desk we were taken back to an exam room.  The nurse came in to take my wife’s vitals and they struck up a conversation about the past two weeks and how we had been coping.  It was at that moment when the malodorous scent wafted its way into my nostrils.  Working in the field that I do, I come in contact with fecal matter on a daily basis.  I am able to smell a turd from a mile away.  And this was no ordinary turd smell.  This was worse.  I glanced down at my daughter still strapped in and asleep in her car seat.  A faint glimmer of a grin came across her face.

“Uh oh….” I said,  “I think we may have a problem”

My wife and the nurse turned to me with puzzling gazes.  I quickly unfastened the car seat straps and pulled my daughter up and out.  Their faces quickly turned to that of horror and disgust.  I turned the baby around to see what the source of their fright was.  My daughter, at the age of 2 weeks old, had her first major blowout.  And we FORGOT THE DIAPER BAG.  The brown stain had soaked through her sleeper clear up to her shoulder blades.  The excrement had completed permeated through the sleeper and onto the padding of the car seat.  The coup d’├ętat was as I lifted her out, there was, lets just say, a “disturbance in the force” as my daughter let loose another mighty blow and the pure liquid poo began running down the leg of her sleeper and now was dripping onto my jeans.  The nurse stood in disbelief for a moment or two and then returned to reality.

“It’s ok,” she said sweetly.  “This sort of thing happens all the time.  You aren’t the first set of new parents to come in here and forget the diaper bag.  We have diapers and wipes for this very reason.”

My wife and I breathed a temporary sign of relief as we quickly began undressing the baby while at the same time trying to keep the carnage to a minimum.  The nurse returned moments later with a sheepish look on her face.

“Soooooo yeeeeeaaah….we have diapers, and we have wipes, but the smallest size of diapers we have right now is a size 4.”

“It will have to do!” I said.

After a cleanup that would have rivaled the BP oil spill, we put the diaper on the baby.  It came up to her armpits it was so big on her.  It was pretty humorous given the situation, and we all got a nice chuckle.  Then, there came the issue of clothing.  We certainly couldn’t put her back in the sleeper, and there needed to be some kind of barrier against the car seat that was now damp from repeated attacks with baby wipes.  I then got an idea.  Remember that scene in Ghostbusters II when the bathtub tries to eat the baby and Dana flees to Venkman’s apartment?  Remember when Venkman dresses the baby in the football jersey?  I took the baby blanket we had on hand and created a makeshift onesie in a similar fashion.  The nurse even came up with a perfect way to secure it.  A butterfly breast cancer awareness pin.

So I told you that story so that you parents and would be parents could make sure this never happened to you.  After that day, my wife and I came up with a plan that was both cost effective and always at the ready.  We had received a portable changing pad as a baby shower gift.


At the time it was still sitting in the nursery because my wife and I weren’t quite sure what to do with it.  Our diaper bag came with a changing pad, so we really didn’t need another one.  We kept it just in the event our primary one wore out.  After looking at this thing, we found that it had all kinds of pockets, and it folded up into a nice neat little package.  This became our Diaper Changing Emergency Kit.  This kit lives in the SUV under the passenger seat, and is always with the child because it is in the same vehicle as the car seats.  Here are it’s contents:

  • Diapers – Duh…this one should be a given.  We keep several of the current size our child is wearing.
  • Wipes – Another duh.  To ensure that the wipes stay moist, we took a sizeable stack of wipes and put them in a quart size Ziplock bag.  From there, we put them in one of those hard plastic wipe containers that sometimes come inside the giant economy case of wipes you can buy at the store.  We did this for two reasons.  1. The Ziplock bag will lock in the moisture and prevent the wipes from drying out.  2.  The hard case keeps them nice neat and tidy so that they don’t get bunched up and hard to retrieve when dealing with a roadside mess.
  • Diaper rash cream – Ok, this took some MacGuyvering.  I do not recommend putting an entire tube of cream in this pack.  It takes up too much space, and it will blow open in the heated a closed up car in the summer.  Here’s the workaround.  If you have a Foodsaver, you can make your own little miniature tube out of the freezer bag and you can squeeze just enough cream in for one application before sealing it shut.  Before tossing a few of these in the bag, cut a small slit on the corner of the seal to perforate it making it easier to tear open when out and about.
  • Change of clothes – Remember the disaster from earlier?  A onesie will fit nicely laid flat on the pad then folded up with the kit when closed.
  • Hand sanitizer – For a dollar you can get a bottle that has one of those rubberized sleeves.  They clip quite nicely to the zipper pull.  Or if you’re the creative type, you can weave one out of paracord.
  • A heavy cloth – We personally use a cloth diaper.  Really all it serves for us is something to lay down on the changing pad before the baby.  Those things can be cold and it makes things more comfortable for the baby.  That, and you never know when it will come in handy to mop something up.
  • Extra Ziplock bags – You’re gonna need something to put the nastiness in right?  A gallon size bag usually does the trick.  That way when you pull over at the nearest gas station, you can pitch the whole thing right in.

Folded all up and closed with a Velcro strap, the whole kit fits in your hand and is the size of an oversized woman’s clutch.  Any time we have been out and forgotten the diaper bag, this little thing has been a lifesaver!

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Emergency Kits and Kids Part 2

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My wife and I are pretty outdoorsy people.  If the weather is nice and warm, the last place you will find us is in front of the TV.  Camping, hiking, biking, geocaching, or just a nice walk on the bike path.  You name it, we’re out there.  When you factor children into the equation, it doesn’t make it impossible, but you do have to learn how to manage appropriately.  This where my next kit comes into play.  I call it my Outdoor Kids Kit.


Now, this kit is modular.  It is not the same every time we go out, and the contents and the container change based on the particular activity of the day.  It is a Camelbak daypack knockoff that I picked up for around $20. It has plenty of space on the interior, with additional pockets and bungee cords for quick grab items. There is also a pocket and sleeve for a 2L hydration bladder. The basic contents are this:

  • First Aid Kit – I don’t carry a full size trauma bag worth of supplies in this.  I will delve into more specifics later on in the post.  My ACTUAL trauma bag is for another post.  I simply carry a basic first aid kit that zips up into a nice little carrying pouch.  It opens like a book and has “pages” with pockets full of supplies.  Make sure to have extra stuff to clean out skinned knees and elbows.  Toddlers aren’t really steady and rather top heavy when running full speed.  Next time you’re out to eat at a barbecue joint, ask for extra wet wipes and toss a few in here.  They work great for cleaning out wounds.  Also a pack of kid friendly bandages helps dry the tears.  I personally carry the Disney Princess pack.
  • Water – That’s water for you, AND the kids.  I always have the 2 hydration bladder with me, plus a water bottle strapped to the outside bungees.  It is important to stay hydrated when in the outdoors.  You don’t have to be sweating to become dehydrated!!!  Also have a method for water purification if you’re going to be on a longer trip where access to public water is limited.  Mostly I carry iodine tabs for an emergency, but I have a water purification filter I will toss in my bigger pack for longer/overnight trips.
  • Snacks – Do you really want to be stuck 5+ miles out  somewhere and your kid decide that the hunger pangs that could have been staved off by actually eating a meal at lunchtime can no longer be suppressed?  Baggies of Cheerios, trail mix, dehydrated fruit are all great ways to not only keep a kid full, but the little bites force their hands to keep occupied.  Also those prepackaged pureed fruit pouches that are all the rage these days.  These are great especially when we are biking and the kid decides that now is the time she is bored with the trip and wants to flip out in the bike trailer.
    Pocketknife and Multitool – I actually always carry these two items on my person at all times….unless I’m at work.  Then it’s bandage scissors and a stethoscope.  When I was in the Boy Scouts, it was stressed upon you never to be without your pocketknife, and in Search and Rescue, it was vital.  Most multitools have a knife blade on them, but I prefer to carry them separately simply because I use my knife a lot, I like the blade on it better than my multitool, and it’s easier to handle.  If you only wish to carry one, make it the multitool.  I have one on my belt, and my wife carries one in her purse.  And believe it or not she uses hers as much as I use mine!  I bought it for her as a Christmas present because I got tired of mine disappearing because she needed it for something.  You never know when you’re going to be in the woods or on a walk and something happens.  The stroller has a loose screw and you need a screwdriver.  Your wife gets a splinter and you need a pair of tweezers.  You forgot the can opener at home and need the can of sauce opened for the spaghetti (All of the examples given have actually happened to me).  So you never know when you’ll need it.  You also don’t need a $70 Leatherman either.  I carry a Gerber Suspension Multitool.  It retails for $30, I have had it for 10+ years, and it has held up the entire time.
  • Pen and notebook – This was a tip I picked up from Search And Rescue. You never know when you will need to write something down. Consider this very plausible scenerio. You are far out. There is no cell phone reception. You are injured and cannot continue on or call for help. Someone passes you on the trail. You have a pen and paper where you can write down vital information such as name, location, nature of injury, etc that your Good Samaritan can pass along to the first responders.
  • Method of Communication – 95% of you will use a cell phone for this. Carry it with you and keep it charged. I also highly recommend a method to CHARGE it if you plan on being out for any length of time. I just carry one of those power banks that you can charge up at home and plug your phone into later. I have a solar charger if I’m going to be somewhere overnight.  I am also a ham radio operator, so I have my ham radio with me as well. For those of you unfamiliar, check it out here. It requires a FCC license, and I like to go a lot of places where there is no cell phone service, so this is the perfect way to call for help.
  • Signalling device – Ok, so there’s no cell phone service, no one on the radio, now what?  You gotta get someone’s attention somehow. Three long blasts from an emergency whistle can signal someone for several miles away if the wind is good. A signal mirror can also be used as a visual for an overhead plane or someone in the distance. Remember, be prepared.

Now let’s talk about some modular items. This is dependent upon what activity is happening. I swap these items regularly in and out of my other kits for when I need them.

  • GPS – If I plan on going anywhere where there is a potential to have little to no cell phone reception, I will throw my Garmin WITH EXTRA BATTERIES into my pack.  This has a multipurpose function.  For one, if I need to call for help, I can pull out my GPS and tell them my exact coordinates taking the guesswork out of a search party.  Secondly, if I am unable to call for help, or I am lost, I can use the GPS with its preloaded maps to help me find my way home.  And as a caveat here, may I just say that if you’re going to be roughing it through the brush, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS bring a paper copy of a map and a compass.  A GPS is nice, but remember it is a piece of technology.  Technology always has the potential for failure.  One time, my search and rescue team was participating in a joint training venture with a canine search team.  My team’s training focus was primarily search tactics, wilderness survival, and wilderness emergency medicine.  The team we were working with focused most of their training on the dogs.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you have to have some level of preparedness if you’re going to be going on wilderness searches.  These handlers would be so loaded down with gear for the dog that they would carry absolutely nothing for themselves.  Case in point; I was assigned comms on a team of consisting of myself, a seasoned handler that was our navigator, and a new handler that was trying to work a new dog in the field.  Unbeknownst to Incident Command of this little tidbit, this damn dog was taking us all over hell’s half acre in the middle of a state forest.  Command radios me for our position, and I look at my NAV who this whole time has been paying absolutely no attention to doing any actual navigation and trying to teach this rookie handler and didn’t take the time to notice that her GPS unit’s batteries had died, and she didn’t bring backups.  Luckily, I had snagged a paper map from Command, pulled out my compass and was able to give an approximate location.  Our NAV person then held out her hand to me like I was going to relinquish the duties back over to her, and I told her in a rather overtly blunt manner that her lack of common sense compiled with her general unpreparedness had lost her said responsibility.
  • Small toys – These don’t really come along unless we’re biking.  Our daughter rides in a trailer that bolts to the back of my bike.  Most of the time she stays interested in what is going on around her and waves to the people going by.  But after a while that loses its lackluster effect and tantrums have ensued.  Usually we will toss in her favorite dolly, a few picture books, and her hand puppets.

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  • Rain poncho – You can pick up a disposable $0.99 one of these babies at almost any checkout line in America during the summer months.  I toss one or two into my pack because they take up almost no room, are lightweight, and can double as a shelter if need be.
  • Emergency Blanket – This goes along the same lines as the poncho.  Keeps you warm if it’s going to be cold, doubles as a shelter, lightweight, and costs next to nothing.
  • Bicycle Repair Kit – This obviously is only used when biking.  There are many different things you can have in it, but mine basically consists of a bottle of Fix-a-Flat goop, a bike pump, and a multipurpose bike wrench if something comes loose.
  • 550 Paracord Never leave home without it!  Paracord (aka parachute cord) has been gained popularity in recent years due to the prepper movement.  You can get this stuff in any color, pattern, or style you can think of.  But buyer beware.  Make sure that when you buy it, that it is made in the USA, and has 7 inner cores.  There is a ton of Chinese crap out there that will leave you high and dry in an emergency.  This stuff has a million uses from shoe laces, to shelters, and stitches if need be!  I will either carry some in a survival bracelet, a keychain fob, or woven around some hiking sticks.

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So there you have it.  My outdoor kit is always changing, and I have more or less in it depending upon the situation.  Hope this helps those of you who are worried about going into the wilderness with young ones be more prepared.  Just get out there and remember to have fun!

 

Why is it called Nurse Daddy?

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While I was trying to come up with a name for this blog, I sat and thought about it, and came up just shy of diddly squat. The whole point of taking the time to write these stories was to share my real stories, so therefore the title had to also be equally real. So where did Nurse Daddy come from?
It was one of the worst days of my career I’d ever had. I was assisting a patient to the bathroom when they collapsed and became unresponsive. I immediately called for help, and we got them back into bed. That’s when the breathing stopped. It was my first Code Blue.

They always tell you in the CPR class that when the time comes, your adrenaline will be pumping so hard that you won’t think. You will just act and your training will take over. I am here to tell you that it is COMPLETELY TRUE. It just started. 30 compressions, 2 breaths, 30 compressions, two breaths. Crash cart is here. AED applied. No shock advised, continue CPR. Code Blue Team arrived.
We worked for 45 minutes. All the drugs in the crash cart had been used up. The monitor never showed anything other than asystole. The doctor called time of death. I was numb. Complete chaos doesn’t even begin to describe the scene. Syringes laying all over the floor, tangled lines everywhere, and there was my patient. Lying in the bed, tubes and wires hooked up, the cardiac monitor tracing an unwavering straight line. Dead. The doctor let out a sigh while he pulled off his gloves.

“Good job everyone. That was one of the best ran codes I’ve been a part of in a long time.”

Good job???? GOOD JOB!?!?!?!?! THE PATIENT IS DEAD!!!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN GOOD JOB!!!!!

Everyone proceeded out of the room. The Code Team returned to their respective units, my unit’s staff left to answer the multitude of call lights that had been going off during the code, and there I was. Left standing in the room all alone with my patient. I shut the door and began the long process of cleaning up the mess and initiating the post mortem process. My unit managers came in to check on me to make sure I was ok. I told them that I’d be ok, but inside I really wasn’t. There was a job to be done. I’d have to swallow my emotions and complete the task at hand.

Later that evening I told my wife everything that had happened. I felt that I had failed my patient, and therefore failed as a nurse. My wife comforted me and told me we did all we could do, and we will never know the reason why, but that it was just their time to go. I heeded her words and they brought me some comfort. I still was in a mental funk over all of it.
It was at this moment that my daughter spoke up. I had spent some time talking to her previously about what a nurse was and what they did. In easy to understand toddler terms, nurses were people who worked with doctors in hospitals and took care of sick people to help them get better. I drew the comparison to Hallie the Hippo who was the nurse on her favorite show “Doc McStuffins”.

“Daddy?”

“Yes dear?”

“You work in the hospital?”

“Yes honey I do.”

“You take care of the sick people?”

“Yes sweetheart, that’s right.”

“Daddy…..You’re a good nurse.”

She leaned in and gave me a hug. I looked up at my wife who was beaming with pride.
“That’s right sweetheart. Daddy IS a good nurse.”
I was dumbfounded. Here was my little girl who at the time was barely able to talk, let alone form cohesive sentences coming over to me and offering her support. Hearing that come from her tiny squeaky voice carried with it some kind of cosmic, omnipotent force that told me all of this was not my cross to bear. My confidence was back, and I knew I was ready to get back out on the floor and do what I was called to do.

Having this reaffirmation from Mommy elated my daughter.

“Yay! Daddy is a good nurse! Nurse Daddy, Nurse Daddy!”

After that, it had clicked. Any time there was a stubbed toe, or a skinned knee, “Nurse Daddy!! I have a boo boo! Make it better, you’re a good nurse!”

I even became a nurse for toys! My daughter and our dog were playing in the living room when the dog stepped on her teddy bear’s arm. She was wrought with despair.

“Nurse Daddy! Nurse Daddy! Oh no! The dog hurt my bear’s arm! He’s got a boo boo!!!”
She was not completely satisfied until I had assessed Teddy and bandaged the arm. And yes, I had to wrap the arm with coban.

So there you have it! The Nurse Daddy origin story. Hope you all enjoyed it and we’ll see you next time!

In the beginning…

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Welcome one and all!  I have decided to join the masses in the Blogosphere and have a central location to serve as my creative outlet.  So what is this blog all about?  What is my inspiration?  Well, for starters, I am a male nurse.  I am the real life personification of Gaylord Focker, right down to the white nursing shoes.  Being a male in a predominately female profession has its advantages and disadvantages.  

For starters, when you ask a patient to do something, there is typically very little rebuttal because either A: They think you’re a doctor, and your word is gospel, or B:  You’re a 6ft, 250 lbs, bearded tower of terror and they dare not envoke your wrath.  Both can be humorous at times because I would describe my overall demeanor as being very laid back and goofy, and I get asked quite often on a regular basis why I didn’t become a doctor (that’s another post for another day…).

Another advantage is patient mobility.  Have someone who is a difficult transfer?  No problem.  Need a boost in the bed?  No problem.  Not having to call on additional staff to assist allows you to get tasks completed faster and allows for more staff availability on the floor.  
This however can work to a disadvantage as well.  As being the staff member who has an ample supply of brute strength, you are frequently called upon by your female counterparts to help with said issues, as well as getting those IV supplies off of the top shelf, breaking the seal on that piggyback, and being called on to help the nurse with the patient that gets a little “grabby”.  

You also get to the distinct privilege of being privy to all those female conversations.  You all know the ones.  Open forum discussion about certain monthly visitors, comparative analysis of differing aspects of female anatomical features, woes of childbearing, and of course…..male bashing.  I have employed various tactics in making my presence known as the lone male in attendance.  Anything from a loud cough or throat clearing, getting up and walking away making sure to pass into all of their fields of vision with my eyes shut and my fingers in my ears, to a blatant “Hi!  I’m sitting over here!”  The typical response I receive to these displays of defiance is, “Oh sorry…you’re just one of the girls to us!”
So that covers the work life in a nutshell.  Now on to the home life.  I am a daddy to a beautiful three year old daughter, and my wife is, at the time of this posting, 8 months pregnant with our second daughter.  My only form of male companionship at home is the dog, and he’s been neutered!  
I grew up as a family of four.  My mother and father of course, as well as myself and my younger brother grew up in the suburbs of Southwestern Ohio.  Mom was a self proclaimed tomboy, growing up with all brothers herself, and Dad was everything from soccer coach to Boy Scout Leader.  I guess you can say I grew up with not much estrogen fueled influences. 

My wife and I met in college. After a 3 year courtship, I proposed on the beach at night during a full harvest moon.  After a 3 year long engagement, we were married. We had moved to Southern Ohio where I had found work at a local hospital. After 3 years of marriage (do you see a pattern yet?) my wife and I found out we were expecting. 
The announcement arrived to my family with bittersweet emotions. My mother had been battling ALS (ya know, the one with the ice bucket challenge) for several years.  My dad told me after her passing that when we announced our pregnancy he breathed a sigh of relief over the fact that he knew we would have my mom for at least another 9 months. I found out at her funeral it was her dying wish to become a grandmother. I take comfort in the solace that her suffering is over, but am disheartened at the fact that my children will never know her. She passed away when my daughter was just shy of 6 months old. 

When my mother heard the news, a sly grin came over her face. “Heaven help you son if you have a daughter.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have no clue when it comes to little girls,” she said.   

I looked over at my glowing bride who attempted to hide the humor she had found in this. The look alone confirmed to me that she agreed with my mother. 

“Oh c’mon,” I said. “How bad can it be?”  

The whole room erupted with laughter. 

Several months later at the 20 week ultrasound, the long awaited moment had rendered the verdict. I didn’t even have to wait for the sonographer to tell us. I saw it plain as day on the screen. It was a girl.  Instantly I experienced rapid fire flash imagery running through my brain. Tea parties, dolls, pink and purple everywhere!  Something I had never experienced in my life. Then came the scarier flashes. Prom dresses, boys, wedding dresses!!!  I sat there in the sonography room just dumbfounded. I wasn’t upset that it was a girl by any means. I had just always assumed I would have a son, and in my mind’s eye that was what I had pictured when the thought of children arose. I was in completely foreign water. What am I going to do?  They’re right!!!!  I don’t know ANYTHING about girls!!!!!

Needless to say, the following Spring my daughter was born. From the very beginning I was hooked. She had me wrapped around her finger and I could do nothing to stop it. Fast forward 3 years, my daughter still has me wrapped, the only difference is now she knows it and knows how to exploit it!  

So now that you have the backstory, this is my life in a nutshell. Having a daily battle of wits with a cunning toddler, working full time as a nurse, all the while supporting my wife on the eve of her giving birth to another bundle of joy that will be our second daughter.   I can hear my mother up in heaven looking down at all of this, loving every minute of it….and laughing her ass off.  It’s a chaotic life, but it’s a good life. I’m surrounded by people who I love and who love me back.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.