Baby Savannah’s First Ambulance Ride


The day started out so normally—my 18-month-old, Savannah, and I ate breakfast and I took a shower.

Then, Savannah crawled into the shower area. The shower was off and she loves to splash in the puddles.

A moment later she was fussing and crying. She had not one, but three, fingers stuck in the holes of the drain. OK, no big deal. We’ve had fingers stuck in there before. In the past, I’ve just rubbed a little lotion on them and they slide right out.

Only this time they weren’t sliding out.

I grabbed a Q-tip and put some lotion on the part of her fingers on the other side of the drain. It wasn’t working.

I tried conditioner—that stuff feels like an oil slick, so I thought that should do the trick. I was able to wiggle her thumb out of the drain hole. Ha!

But her pointer and middle finger were not budging. I tried giving a wiggle, more lotion, more conditioner. They were swelling and she was screaming.  I was worried about the drain cutting off her circulation.

I couldn’t remove the drain—there were no screw holes and it was basically cemented in.

I called 911.

They connected me to the fire department, who said help was on the way.

I also tried calling my husband, but my call disconnected. I needed to focus on Savannah, who was hysterical.

My phone rang and it was the guy from the fire department. He had more ideas—try a lot of detergent mixed with water. I tried laundry detergent. No luck. I tried dish detergent. No luck.

Each time I left her, I explained to her that I’d be right back, before running away. She was crying and screaming, and obviously scared.

The firemen arrived.

Our dog, Bigfoot, was barking and jumping as several large firemen came running in, leaving the front door wide open. A couple more people followed them. I didn’t want to have to chase him out into the street or to worry about him getting hit by a car. I didn’t want him in the way of the sharp tools or people running around. So I put sweet Bigfoot in the guest bathroom, told him I loved him, and closed the door.

As the firemen rushed toward the bathroom, my phone rang. It was my husband. I quickly told him what was going on and hung up.

The firemen pried the drain out of the floor, with Savannah’s fingers still in it. I was now able to hold her.

Somehow, she’d jammed her thumb back into one of the drain holes.

We poured more slippery stuff on her fingers. I was able to wiggle and push her thumb back out.

The firemen tried pliers, but her two fingers completely filled the holes. There was no way to use the pliers without risking a really serious injury to her fingers.

They tried a ring cutter, but the drain was harder than the ring cutter, so it didn’t cut.

They called an ambulance.

While we waited, they were able to cut the metal squares that weren’t touching her finger. That left a square of metal still on her middle finger like a really tight ring, but freed her middle finger from the rest of the drain.

They weren’t able to free her index finger from the rest of the drain though, because it was right against really thick metal.

They tried turning the drain in a circle around her index finger, to see if that would help to free her finger. Instead, it sliced it open.

Finally the ambulance arrived. I quickly grabbed shoes and my bag, and let Bigfoot out of the bathroom.

Inside the ambulance, I saw that Savannah had rubbed her thumb and middle finger against some of the sharp metal edges, and they were bleeding too.

I held onto her thumb, and one of the techs padded her middle finger with gauze. I held her in my lap in the back of the ambulance.

She snuggled against me and stopped crying. I imitated the ambulance siren. Savannah started singing along with the siren, too.

Her pointer finger had turned purplish grey. I moved the gauze, and tried to reposition the drain to help her circulation, but her finger stayed really purple.

I started to worry that if we didn’t get the drain off that finger soon, that she might lose the finger. I started to think we’d hit a point where we’d need to risk injuring the finger to save it. But we weren’t there yet.

I wanted to cry and scream. But, I kept my cool to reassure Savannah. I gently massaged her purple finger, and it showed specs of flesh color for a moment.

We arrived at the hospital. “I know your finger hurts and you’re scared, but the people here will help us to get your finger free,” I told Savannah, “First we get to go on a special magic carpet ride”. They wheeled us into the hospital.

She was still snuggling and quiet. I resisted the urge to break down into tears.

The doctor did a quick exam, and started on her middle finger. They slid a piece of metal called a “tissue protector” under the square ring of metal around her middle finger, and sawed through the outside of the metal.

Poor Savannah howled, as they worked. I stroked her head. “They’re about half way through the metal,” I told her, “They’re going to get your finger free. I promise.”

It felt like it took forever, but they made it through. Two guys with pliers pulled the metal apart, and her middle finger was free.

I couldn’t help but look at her index finger as they started working on it. The sliced skin was open and the metal was digging into her wound, as they tugged and sawed. I looked away and reminded myself not to panic. They’d given her an anesthetic injection before starting, but she still cried and screamed at the top of her lungs. She didn’t struggle though or fight it—I think she knew they were helping.

Finally, her pointer finger was free too. Yay!

My husband arrived, and Savannah’s fingers were free. He held her for the X-Ray, blew bubbles while they cleaned and bandaged her fingers, and uber-ed home to pick up our car with the carseat. The Emergency Room team offered to help with anything else we wanted, then discharged us.

Savannah is fine and in good spirits. She’s taking a nice long nap.

I’m so grateful to the people who helped us—the 911 team, the firemen, the ambulance, and the ER staff. Our day took a scary, awful turn, but thanks to them, we’re already back at home and things are back to normal.



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