March 14th-20th has been proclaimed National Poison Prevention Week. This is the time of year that all educators for the IPC put forth that extra effort to educate and inform the public of the dangers of unintentional poisonings. I am still amazed each time I attend a public event the number of people who stop to tell me about their brief encounter in using the Poison Center and how grateful they are that we were there to answer their call.
I still find listening to the specialists handle the incoming calls with their calming, professional manner to be an awesome experience. The Illinois Poison Center handled nearly 103,000 calls last year and one might think that the cases would just start to blur together after a couple of thousand calls. But too often for the call center staff, there are some calls that just stand out in their minds more than others. Most often these involve children under the age of five where time and the correct response can make a life-saving difference.
People often do not want to share their experience with others because they are embarrassed or want to remain private. Believe me, these things can (do) happen to anyone, anywhere at any time regardless of who you are, where you live, how much money you make or your level of education. We all know that experience is the best teacher and sharing these experiences helps others to be more attentive, practice poison safety, and most important have the Poison Center number available to call when needed.
Last summer the McKay family of IL felt their lives changed in just a matter of seconds and wanted to share their story with others. Their 2-year old son Colin drank citronella lamp oil used to fuel their torch lamp. Both parents were with him at the time, but children act fast. As Ms. McKay recalled, “I didn’t realize how quickly things could happen. Chris put the bottle down for a second to get more lamp oil and then the next thing I know, my son was drinking it. I quickly paged my pediatrician to figure out what to do. My doctor informed me that there is no way to know how much of the oil Colin drank and instructed me to call the Illinois Poison Center. Within minutes, Miguel Razo, a Certified Specialist in Poison Information and Registered Nurse, took the call and told me exactly what to do. Knowing that the poison expert who helped my son cared enough to call me back later that day to check on Colin was simply golden in my book,” said Ms. McKay. “I didn’t feel like I was just a number in a database, I felt the Illinois Poison Center really does care to make a difference.”
Do you have a story to share that may help others to practice poison safety and call the Poison Center when needed? We would love to hear your story and share it with others. Tells us what happened to you or your loved one and how the Poison Center impacted your life, just like Colin’s.
Continuing to make a difference for the McKay family and the other 12.8 million Illinois residents is becoming more difficult. Funding for the Illinois Poison Center remains in jeopardy as a result of cutbacks in the FY10 budget by the Illinois General Assembly. As the final decisions are made this month, we urge all who understand the importance of keeping the Poison Center operational voice their concerns to their representatives and Governor Quinn. Please take a moment to email Governor Quinn to urge his administration to appropriately fund the Illinois Poison Center:
Until next Tuesday, Gail