Every time I smell the sweet aroma of turkey basting in the oven, I can't help but think back to almost two years ago, when we got a call for a guy who'd burned himself while attempting to smoke a turkey.
It was, as you can imagine, around Thanksgiving time. Turkeys (and all the trimmin's) were in big demand; so were smokers, roasters, and other cookery equipment: anything to have the turkey of your dreams, just in time for the Big Day.
We were scheduled to work that Tuesday before Thanksgiving. No biggie. We'd done it before; we'd probably do it again in the future. Besides me, there were two others: George "Goose" Guzman and Pat Eileen Moss. It was quiet at the firestation; we were killing time by playing Spider on the computer; "Goose" had taught us.
The tones went off, nearly causing us to jump out of our skin. It was very slow; this was the first call of the morning, highly unusual for the upcoming holiday weekend. The call was for a male, aged 24, who had apparently suffered burns while roasting a turkey, Cajun style, in his grill. The winds caught the flame, singing the guy's chest area; he started screaming in pain; when his girlfriend saw him rolling on the ground, she called for the paramedics.
We got to the guy's house within moments. We pushed the girl out of the way and started tending to our victim. The guy looked more like a teenager: barely any hair on his arms or chest, boyish features, skinny as a fence post. He was in agony. His chest was bright red from where he'd got burnt. First degree, possibly some second degree: there were some areas starting to blister.
While I poured the water all over the guy's front, Pat started oxygen via nasal cannula; meanwhile, "Goose" got him hooked up to the heart monitor and started IV's in both arms, having them wide open, so to get needed fluid to the man. He was not only in shock; he was also in extreme pain. He continued to sob like a child, begging us to take away the pain.
He would need some treatment; however, it turned out that he would be okay once his chest burns healed. I think he realized the danger of the situation: never cook outside near a flame when it is windy; you're only asking for trouble.
After maybe a day or two in the hospital, the man would be okay.
It wasn't funny then; now we can look back and laugh. I personally think this is the first time the man tried to roast a turkey, Cajun style; if you don't know what you are doing, you can get into big-time trouble, as this guy (painfully) found out. Now he has no chest hair; none hasn't come in since the accident, and now when he gets out in the sun, he makes sure his chest area is covered. He also itches as if he has fire ants crawling all over him.
It was a comedy of errors: cooking on the grille when it is windy out, with stiff, sustained 30+ mile an hour winds with gusts to 50+. Not really paying attention to the directions prior to cooking. Standing too close to the flames, thus, setting his coat/shirt on fire. Using too much in the way of lighter fluid to light the grille: the wind caused the flame to backflash, thus, striking the poor, unfortunate fellow right in the chest.
It seemed funny; however, we also know the downside of the situation: the guy could have easily suffered third (or even fourth) degree burns, requiring a lengthy hospital stay, months of painful surgeries or treatments, heavy scarring, future trips to the plastic surgeon for skin grafts or scar reducement. Or worse, he could have very easily died hadn't his girlfriend had the fortitude to call us when she did.
Now, thanks to our quick action (and some lessons learned), the guy is walking around, seemingly healed of his experience.
I do notice one thing,though: ever since The Turkey Incident (as we have come to call this particular episode in our career as paramedics/EMTs), we notice that this man never has turkey. Instead he eats beef, pork, or chicken.
No more turkey for Tom the Turkey Baster (as we have since christened this unlucky fellow), not even on Thanksgiving or Christmas!