Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Older Fall

As I was writing my last blog, I mentioned an incident that happened at work that I still cringe at when remembering.

Two years ago April/Mayish timeframe, I was sitting at work and the fire alarm sounded. Not to be distressed, this was just a drill. I wonder about the point of these work disaster "drills" we have at the airplane factory. They announce them over the PA speaker days in advance. They post signs on all the doors so coming and going, you'll know a drill is planned and exactly what day and time it is to occur. We receive emails, etc. and if the weather should become inclement on drill day, so as not to confuse us any, they just cancel the drill. Who wants to go outside for a fire drill during the rain. And have a tornado drill when storms are in the area?---won't happen. My co-workers might confuse a drill for the real thing and chaos would ensue (or so the powers that be think).

Anyway, the fire drill alarm sounded so like the sheep we all are, we started heading out the door to our designated meeting spots in the parking lot. Looking forward to some time outside on a beautiful sunny morning, we all moved to the exit doors yelling to friends and just chatting away (reminescent of high school hallways between classes). No other time is our entire building on the move at the same time; about 2000 of us are in the building, so it is general pandemonium.

Our parking lot has been recently asphalted and is divided into various sections for reserved parking (upper management), handicapped spots in several areas by the various entrance doors, visitor parking, etc. For the most part, the lot is labeled and marked accordingly except for one particular area in the middle, right past the handicapped parking and before the visitor parking, there is an elevated area that resembles a sidewalk--a walkway between these two parking areas. What makes it different from a sidewalk is the lack of curbs. It gradually rises on one side and then sort of drops off on the the other side.

Visitors have complained about stumbling over this area coming from their lot and a co-worker of mine fell there a few years ago during bad weather, breaking his knee. But nothing was ever done about it. When walking from the parking lot to the building, the elevated area is painted a bright yellow to call attention to it. When walking from the building to the parking, there is no attention whatsoever called to the drop off.

Can you see where I'm going with this story. Yes, as I was walking out for my fire drill, chatting and visiting with my co-workers, not paying any attention whatsoever to where I'm walking--definitely not looking down. I walked right up on the elevated walk and walked right off where my ankle just turned completely sideways and down I went. In the middle of the morning, in front of about 2000 of my co-workers. Down on the ground. Of course, everyone hurries to my side. I was in horrible pain and just wanted to sit there a few minutes before trying to get up, thinking I would be OK with a short breather.

However, during our fire drills, we also have firemen, paramedics, ambulances, etc. on site and immediately two paramedics who had seen my stumble, came running with their black medical bags. I assured them I would be fine and should be able to stand in a minute or two when the pain subsided. They explained to me that I was on company property, during a company event, and my fall had been witnessed by untold number of people (yeah, I didn't need to be reminded about that!), and so they had no choice, nor did I, except to bring the stretcher, load me into the ambulance, and take me to the Medical building to get checked out. By this time my supervisor was on also on hand telling me not to argue, just go and get checked out.

So they loaded me onto a stretcher and like the Queen of Sheeba (I wasn't about to lay down on the stretcher, I sat up), I was toted across the parking lot to the ambulance (would they have thought about bringing the ambulance to me....NO).

Anyway, I was still in considerable pain and in addition, had skinned my knee when I fell and it was also bleeding. My handlers and I arrived at the ambulance. They had given me an ice bag for my ankle and another one for my knee so I was sitting up on the stretcher holding ice bags on the two injuries and being lifted into the back of the ambulance. I think there was an issue with me sitting up on the stretcher and them misjudging the space which resulted into them ramming my head into the top of the ambulance, just about knocking me off the stretcher STILL IN VIEW OF THE AUDIENCE OF MY PEERS IN THE PARKING LOT. They finally got me into the ambulance, gave me a third ice bag for my head and with me begging them to not use any lights and sirens, drove me to the Medical building.

To end this long story, I had a severe sprain (deep bone bruise), and had a cast of some sort on for several weeks, on crutches for six weeks, P.T. several times a week for six weeks but I finally healed.

Also, now in the parking lot between the visitor and handicapped area where the asphalt is elevated is a very decorative, metal, ornamental railway on both sides of the elevation. Resembles a bridge railing over a babbling brook in a garden somewhere. It definitely calls attention to the elevation now, prevents any stumbles over this area, and yes, EVERYONE knows the reason for the (Grammy) Memorial Walkway. I'm sure the story will be told and retold through the generations of workers at the airplane factory when someone asks, "hey, what's with that bridge-thing in the parking lot".

You can just call me Clutz!

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