Monday 25 November 2019

Seat belts

Let's face it, seat belts are a good idea. This statement is in no way controversial, and all who try to argue against it aren't just "expressing an opinion" or "arguing the other side", they are just plain fucking wrong. Seat belts were designed to keep you safely in the car in the event of a crash rather than getting blasted through a window to land on a fence post, over a guardrail down an embankment, or into oncoming traffic. They are a Very Good Idea that have been implemented spectacularly well all over the world (mostly) (fuck you, New Hampshire).

As simple and effective as they are, I can not believe that there are people living and driving today who still don't put them on, but there are. And because these people exist, I get to take care of them.

And then I get to write about them when they are inevitably injured much more severely than they should have been.

Judy (not her real name™) and her husband Mickey (not his real name™) decided to take a break from their door-to-door Xanax business and take a little drive. Now before I continue, please go back and read that last sentence again. I'll wait right here.

*pleasing hold music, but not the boring twaddle you hear while on hold on the phone*

You're back? Excellent hold music, right? Anyway, I assume you read it back at least twice, because I know I sure did, and I wrote the damned thing. Yes, Judy and Mickey had a little neighbourhood benzodiazepine business. They literally went door to door asking their friends and neighbours if they wanted any pills. Where they got these pills is anyone's guess, but I have to assume business was booming because the police officer who came with them described their stash as a "large grocery bag full".

In case you thought that was stupid, what made it even stupider (yes, that's a word) is that they dipped into their own cache and then mixed the pills with alcohol.

And what made it even stupider is that on their break they decided to go for a little drive while drunk and stoned out of their minds.

And what made it even stupider was then choosing to engage in a street race while stoned out of their minds.

And then what made it the stupidest (yes, that's also actually a word) is that they failed to put on their seat belts.

Ironically I can't even fault them for not putting their seat belts on, because they were both too drunk/stoned to keep their eyes open let alone perform a complex task such as inserting tab A into slot B. How Mickey managed to navigate the controls of a motor vehicle is one of life's great mysteries. Regardless, engage in a street race they did, and I believe it is a safe assumption that they lost. Crashing into a bridge abutment at 120 kph (75 mph) in a 50 kph (30 mph) zone will usually lose you any race fairly instantaneously, unless the objective of the race was to see who dies the fastest (or tries, at least).

And because Judy and Mickey were not wearing their seat belts, both were ejected from the car, far, far away from all the various safety mechanisms that had been designed, extensively tested, and installed specifically to protect them. Mickey was thrown through the windscreen, presumably striking his head and/or neck on the bridge or the ground or a tree or it doesn't really fucking matter what. Judy was partially ejected through the passenger window, bending her lower spine at a rather awkward angle.

Both of them were awake when they arrived in the trauma bay. Neither was moving.

"Hey trauma team, this is Mickey and Judy. He's 50, she's 35. They were in a street race, high speed, struck a bridge. He was ejected, not moving anything below the neck. She was partially ejected, moving her arms but not her legs. Doesn't look good, Doc."

No, no it sure didn't.

Mickey had fractured his sixth cervical vertebra, and a portion of the fractured bone had been pushed into his spinal cord, paralysing him from that point down instantly. He also had a few broken ribs, but those would only pose minor problems (relatively speaking). Judy had fractured her first lumbar vertebra, also injuring her spinal cord at that location. Mickey had no motor or sensory function below his neck, and it was a minor miracle that he was still able to breath on his own, since the nerves that control the diaphragm come from just above that level (C3-5). Judy had no motor or sensory function below her waist in addition to a minor laceration of her spleen.

Both required major spine surgery. Both survived.

I had several opportunities to sit and chat with Judy during her two weeks with me. She was actually a reasonably intelligent woman, polite, appreciative, and apologetic (even though she hadn't been the one driving at the time). Mickey, on the other hand, remained recalcitrant despite his quadriplegia. Despite his horrific and life-changing injury, he was adamant that he had only survived because he had been "thrown clear of the wreck". Judy at least understood that remaining in the car with the seat belts and airbags would have been much less harsh on their bodies than, you know, hitting concrete at 1/10 the speed of sound (yes, really).

She too failed to convince him before she went to a spinal rehabilitation facility.

Mickey had some respiratory complications and ended up needing a tracheostomy. He stayed with me for about a six weeks before going to the same spinal rehab facility, arguing the entire time that he still would never ever wear "that damned belt".

I saw Judy about a month later. She had finished her inpatient rehabilitation and was starting to regain some use of her legs. I saw Mickey about two weeks later, and owing only to the quick response of our neurosurgeon had regained near full use of his arms, though he will remain paralysed from the chest down for the rest of his life. But unfortunately that had only strengthened his bewildering belief that not wearing his seat belt had saved his arms. I again tried to explain that, had he stayed in the car and been buffered by the seat belt and airbag, his injuries would have been significantly less, and he may have literally walked away from the accident, but he only cut me off.

"I'll never wear that damned belt. It would have killed me."

I seldom give up, especially when it comes to something as important and life-saving (and simple) as using a seat belt. But after several attempts and an equal number of rude interruptions, I gave up.

And if you're wondering, I have no idea what happened to their Xanax business. I forgot to ask.


  1. Reminds me of the Einstein quote thay roughly goes "there are 2 things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, but im not so sure about the universe yet"

  2. in my area, "thrown partially clear" is a euphemism for DRT, which is an acronym for Dead, Right There.

    I have quite literally no limit of stories of loading the unbelted passenger in the ambulance, and finding a ride home for the belted passenger. fortunately, I only have about a story per year of waiting for the coroner to take custody of the unbelted passenger.

    fun family history fact. one of my ancestors was killed in a drunk driving crash in a model T Ford. he was thrown out of the car and hit his head on a rock - killing him instantly.

    1. For all that I'm happy to expound at length on the theory of car safety, and belts, and the efforts people have made to make cars safe, surely the most convincing argument must be this one: Seeing multiple occupants of the same vehicle where the belted ones walk away and the unbelted ones have to be scraped up. It can't take many of these incidents to change even the most entrenched mind.

      There should be a law that says "if you are caught in a vehicle without a belt you will be sentenced to a month driving around with Ken" (sorry Ken!). That'll fix 'em.

    2. you would be amazed how many firefighters still think it won't happen to them. the fact that two chiefs from a neighboring department are still recovering from having a new-to-them rescue hit by a drunk driver so hard it flipped the rescue, might make an impression. (the drunk driver and his passenger were DRT)

      but yes, put them in a car with slick vinyl seats with me driving, and I'll show them a good reason to wear a seat belt. - but I prefer the idea "if you refuse to wear a seatbelt, you assume full responsibility for any injuries that result from it."

    3. "Your honor, i told him hed be responsible for any injuries he incurred because of it. So I'm not guilty, since I hit him in the head with a hammer Because he wouldnt wear his seatbelt!"

    4. A reasonable and moderate reaction. No case to answer!

      There may be a reason I'm not a Judge.

    5. Ken- as a receiver of your un-DRT partially or fully-ejected traumas, I can tell you that even if the coroner doesnt get them immediately, very very few of them walk out of there, or if they do their TBI qualifies them for a lifetime of Disability checks. :(

  3. I just saw the movie Doctor Sleep and couldnt help but laugh when (spoiler alert) Dan torrance speaking through yhe girl to her kidnapper says "guess if you expect to live forever you wouldnt wear your seatbelt" right before telekinetically forcing him to crash his car and get thrown through the windshield to his death

  4. Flipping a heavy vehicle and getting rolled over by it shows up in otherwise very survivable coal mining accidents you can read about in MSHA fatalgrams.

    I admit to once attempting to put my seatbelt on in a canoe!

    1. most chilling phrase I have ever heard uttered on a crash scene was "we rolled the car off the kids"

  5. I have two examples of exception-to-the-rule to offer. Neither are statistically significant enough to convince me NOT to wear my belt when in a car.

    My wife's kid sister spun/flipped/rolled her Miata going way too fast on a winding road. Due to her inability to wear a seatbelt, she was dropped (bruises only) on the side of the road to watch her car go through gyrations (and an inverted bounce) that would have turned her upper body into hamburger were she still in the car. Having driven a ragtop for many years, I am fully aware of what a rollover without a cage will do to the occupant.

    My ex-wife's grandfather had multiple incidents of "if I was wearing a belt". While following a truck hauling un(der)-secured steel beams, one slid out, and right through the front windshield, all the way into the trunk. If he were strapped in, it would have hit center-mass. Since he wasn't secured, he was able to throw himself into the passenger side, and was uninjured. Two other times, he was thrown clear of the vehicle in rollovers, where the cab was crushed. One of those times, the passenger (who was strapped in) did not make it, but grandpa was just scratched up. As a result, he would neither use, nor recommend use of seatbelts.

    1. I won't be uploading a picture, but my brother lost control of his pickup on an unexpected patch of hail, and ended up upside down with the cab on the driver's side smashed down to the windowsill. he did have some trouble convincing the fire crew on scene (it wasn't me) to stop worrying about his injuries and pry open the door so he could get out.

      in the topless miata crash I was on, the driver would have been uninjured, except for the fact that after the car slid to a stop, she fell out of the car onto her face.

    2. In my Miata case, it finished the trip inverted on the road; would've been considerably nastier had she stayed in the vehicle.

  6. What. An. Idiot. And yet, entertaining though it was to read (and thrilling as it is to read Doc posting here with regularity again)...I am beginning to really regret reading this post. :(

    I seriously cannot help but cringe as I consider whether Doc would inevitably judge me to be at least as idiotic a driver in that I am one who (while properly seat-belted) only ever drives topless (convertible-wise, that is; only the *other* way once, while on a dare).

    And this is not just during the occasional road trip. I have driven with the top down constantly since I purchased my first (of 5) convertible... so literally one million plus miles of driving with the top down across North America (and a bit of Mexico).

    Since this is partially due to claustrophobia, I don't even put the top up while driving in the rain or occasional snow flurry. Through the years, I have been pulled over in my open convertible by concerned CHP officers (who suspect me of DUI) during sandstorms and gales, lightning storms, and a 118°F heat wave not to mention a few very high crime districts (although, of course, I hardly go out if my way for the opportunity to drive topless in dangerous conditions).

    Unfortunately for the risk factor, but fortunately for the beauty of it, my 110 mile daily work commute includes 60 miles driving along one of this scenic but deadliest of highways in the nation (

    Although I have never been in an accident, I have witnessed hundreds on this highway (including flipped cars) and many fatalities.

    A few times, including once when I was interviewed by an officer as the first witness to arrive at the scene of a near-fatal accident between two other drivers, I have been cautioned about how dangerous it is for me to drive in an open car on this highway (especially during mudslides and in extreme fog, etc). Friends and family members have also often expressed their concern.

    I do have the assumption that--roll bars on my convertibles notwithstanding-- my chance of surviving an accident wherein the car flips is very slight. And yet I have to commute to/fro work and, unless I undergo hypnosis or something alike to it, I cannot imagine myself enduring this commute or any other drive in a closed car.

    I consider myself a defensive driver and know my car and his engine well. (Of course he is a male; he and all my other convertibles have always been *stick* shifts. Ahem). And yet certain other drivers and officers apparently judge my driving style a bit reckless. Anyway, defenses or recklessness aside, there is always the possibility of my being hit head-on (as I have witnessed once in the past to the driver if a vehicle a hundred feet ahead of mine). Thus it seems not unlikely that I might someday be in an accident myself which, given this highway's conditions, might be a quite serious one; and if I do happen to survive it, it also seems not unlikely that a trauma surgeon, operating on my broken body (and perhaps being told I was extracted from an open convertible on this "bloodiest of highways"), might easily speculate on exactly how pathetic of an idiot I am (or was [I am not optimistic about surviving this theoretical accident]).

    1. Hmm. (Okay ..having typed out that above comment, I am still cringing and now also blushing in shame).

      Come to think of it, might Doc and others here perceive me as even *more* of an idiot than this seatbelt-hating driver?!

      After all, in refusing to acknowledge the safety features of the seatbelt, the above-described idiot thinks he is right in disdaining it whereas I, while acknowledging the safety features of my car's roof, know I am wrong in disdaining it. And yet tomorrow I (self-described idiot) will disdain that confining car roof yet again...for the hundredth time in a heavy rainstorm and the ten-thousandth time in general.


      Doc...yeah, if you read this, you *really* don't need to reply. Please. I can anticipate your response. Anyway, I already admitted I almost won a DA (when I almost fell off a cliff...and also drank unfiltered water from a tropical stream).

      I *know* I am an idiot. But on the plus side, we idiots do have a helluvalot of fun. I could write 100000 words just describing the awesome sights I have beheld while driving topless (though I *do* occasionally glance at the road; I only willingly endanger myself, not the innocent drivers and road-crossing animals around me).

      P.S. re: seatbelt safety: I always think of the following story when I feel my own seatbelt catch on my body jewelry: ....but even if I am in an accident and my belly button ring is projected into my stomach by the seatbelt slamming against my waist (and even if that is alike to being shot in the stomach), I would gladly take the chance of surviving *that* rather than being violently tossed from my car.

    2. unless you also have a penchant for antique cars, the only difference between a convertible and a nonconvertible is, by US regulations, that loose items are more likely to be scattered across the countryside in a crash - they are required to be survivable in a rollover crash.
      which only leaves falling rocks or very soft terrain as significant hazards.

      most of the crashes I have seen, the lack of a roof would have made little difference, as long as the occupants were belted in.

    3. addendum: check that, brush would also be an issue in a few cases.

    4. As a former ragtop-driver, you're fine; there's naught to be embarrassed about. The top on most (excepting the rare hardtop convertible) won't survive a flip; that's what your roll bars are for. whether the framing on your windshield doesn't collapse, you'll be just as safe topless as not.

      I was also fond of driving topless, rain or shine. I've also driven Ortega Highway (faster than recommended) with the top down on more than a few occasions. I always got funny looks putting the cab-cover on during rain (rather than putting the top up once arriving at work). Some would argue this being why motorcyclists are so dedicated to their form of transport.

      I put wider tires on the droptop to reduce roll risk.
      This was more personal preference than necessity, but it made rough roads less worrisome. Topless driving FTW!

      p.s. Ken: the late 90's Miata i've been discussing had the windshield flatten down; the entire cab was flush to the door-top. Newer ones are designed to survive a roll. Older ones? Not so much. My baby girl was an '86; not rated to survive rollover.

    5. I drove with the top down in freezing weather once. I highly recommend against it. even MY heater isn't that powerful.

    6. I had a convertible once. She was named Babs.
      Bragging rights go to the person who can tell me why, although you'd need to be a Brit' of a certain age to have any chance...

    7. you're right. google was no help at all.

    8. I used to drive pretty much year-round topless; my heater WAS up to the task, and the windflow kept the front seat nice and toasty. Anyone in the back was freezing however.

      Dang Ugi! i was hoping you were referring to Barbara Anne Bunny...

    9. either your window design really isolated your driver's seat well, you heater was designed by lucifer, or you didn't understand I was speaking literally when I described the weather as "freezing"

      dashing through the snow in an open sleigh is highly overrated.

    10. Dashing through the snow;
      In a 221-horsepower open sleigh;
      Over the mountain we go;
      Shivering all the way...

      Actually, my car's heater is really good as well (and/or I have a high tolerance for low [and high] temperatures) cuz I never experience any real discomfort except during hail storms (and even then, with a hat protecting the top of my head and the brim protecting my eyes, I can handle it okay).

      I suck at maths and haven't calculated the formula but do notice that as long as my driver-side window is up and I am traveling at least 50 mph, the rain, hail, and snow are blocked by the windshield unless it's falling really fast and hard (and u have to drive much slower anyway). And that is when u r inevitably pulled over by a cop checking to see if u r DUI and/or mentally ill and u really just want to explain "umm ...yeah the storm is only a problem when I'm stopped and pulled over in the open like this so ...not to be rude but can u please let me be on my way so the windshield can be of some major help for me?") ;) But u don't say that.

    11. well, I know aerodynamics can be a factor, since I have no problems driving an engine with the windows down, but I hate having a window down in any of the cars I drive at the moment. but in my case it was that 30 degrees at highway speed works out to 10 degrees on exposed skin.

      of course, in the engine, I have on bunker gear and the firecom headset, so I'm pretty well insulated.

    12. There is definitely a startling difference between 38 degrees and 28 degrees (far more drastic-seeming then the difference between 105 and 95).

      Once I forgot my jacket, gloves, and hat in my dryer machine at home while it was 29° at nifht and it was quite ... unpleasant a drive for me, even with the heater on full blast. I don't know how motorcyclists withstand it.

      Ah, and you are a firefighter and paramedic, Ken? ...that's the source for all your excellent, knowledgeable comments here. Cool! Thank you again for relieving some of my concern over rollover accidents during my commute...and thank you even more for all that u and your colleagues do for the community and natural environment!! :)

    13. fire/rescue, but not paramedic. there are limits to what even I can pack into a day.

    14. It was the perfect combination of aerodynamics and a REALLY effective heater. the windshield swept the airflow over the cab, creating a pocket. Add to that when the side windows were up it made a very nice pocket in the front seats. There's little niftier than cruising through low clouds or snow with the ability to look up. Funny enough, my current ride, though an enclosed cab, doesn't EVEN make nearly the heat that girl did! (20-odd minutes to getting warm air, much less hot)

      you're welcome, Cole. I drive a pickup nowadays, but I miss Sally greatly. yes, i'm one of those weirdos that names cars, too.

    15. is your pickup a diesel by any chance? the price you pay for not wasting as much fuel is you don't get as much waste heat out of it. it's the reason why the Dodge sprinter, van, was introduced with a booster heater in the heating system.

    16. Nope, Straight-six. She's just cold-blooded.

    17. There is nothing weird about naming your car/vehicle.
      All cars should have names. My dad was a rally driver and he named his rally cars.
      Twinkle was a mk1 ford cortina, white with a horizontal dark green strip along the sides and her name written in cursive alongside the hood. Then there was Skodabeast, Magnanimous, Screech and TonkyBonk his Citroen 2CV and sundry others as he also owned a garage and had multiple cars. His cars were named after their characteristics/characters, they named themselves My bros have named their cars, currently Piers my middle bro is driving a C-RV called Miss Piggy. he names them depending on the license plate so we have had Malky, Jiffy and currently Miss Piggy. His wife has had a Citroen called Big Butt Bertha and i have my cripmobile (mobility scooter) called Cedric.
      Every car has its own personality, sometimes you see it straight away, other times you have to wait and see what comes to mind.
      Big hugs Seamus from a fellow car namer xx.

    18. most of the names of vehicles I drive are descriptive. I've driven the Dog, the Great White, and the Armored car. - in fact, the only thing I can think of that had a human style name is the parade engine - which besides being engine 1, I also refer to it as Rudy (Rudolph)when we use it for Christmas events.

    19. My first car was a Toyota Corona was the Brown Buffalo (guess what color), and had all the acceleration of it's namesake. My Dodge van was the F***mobile, as it was a mini-RV with a double-bed in back. Then I got Sally, the Pervertible. Named her the day i walked an '85 Mustang off a stoplight (with lots of revving up before it changed). I miss the Green Hornet (well, red and green, but that car was unkillable). Then we got Sally back from the dead, so it became a 'Nightmare Before Christmas' theme for awhile. I just recently had to retire Ginny (Genevive), and am now in a truck that refuses to properly introduce herself.

      Every one has "told" me a name at some point. We also have a Bruce in the family (Classic Ford exploder). Some day i'll know the name of the pickup; i may end up calling her Dakota until she speaks up about it.

    20. Love those names for your cars, Seamus! My five male (stick-shift) ragtops were/are Lou, Jerry, BeeBumble, B.T.T.B., and DiJohnny.

    21. Tania, love your cars' names, too!! (Curious about Magnanimous)!

    22. I have a Sally! It’s a stick shift - not really sure why that means “penis” to cole, but whatever.

    23. Is it odd, my instinctive perception? (Ignore/delete if this isn't appropriate but I am curious if my perception is odd, here).

      The stick shift's knob-tipped rod shape is phallic; it's located in the middle/exterior of my car/DiJohnny; I can control/manipulate DiJohnny with this rod; it's extremely fun to control/manipulate this rod while listening and 'feeling out' DiJohnny's internal response ...

      Seriously, I didn't/don't intend to sound weird/nasty but I thought this a quite normal and even common analogy or form of symoblism.


  7. Thank you Ken and Seamus and Ugi, btw, for making me feel more ... *normal* about this.

    I am probably just a bit defensive because of how often (at traffic lights, gas stations, in parking lots, etc.) folks ask me why the top is down at night or in bad weather. I usually just laugh and lie that the top's motor us broken since it isn't particularly fun to announce phobias to strangers. (Hmmmm. Then again, I did announce the truth here; but confessing a phobia to someone looking right at u is different somehow. :)

    I know the folk who comment probably mean well; they may even think I am deliberately trying to draw attention to myself and am eagerly inviting observations about my apparently "adventurous" spirit. Others may be sincerely concerned while of the mind that it isn't safe or healthy.

    Regardless, it can be very embarrassing. And that's why it is always such a pleasant relief to meet others who prefer driving topless in all weather. Thx again! :)

    1. I understand phobias. for me, driving with the top down was nearly always a fair weather indulgence.

  8. This is off topic but it is about anti-vaxxers

    Samoan authorities have arrested an anti-vaxxer amid a measles crisis that has killed at least 63 people on the Pacific island.

    Edwin Tamasese allegedly told health authorities – who have launched a mass immunisation drive – to ‘enjoy your killing spree’.

    He has now been charged with incitement against a government order, as officials have warned fellow anti-vaxxers: ‘Don’t get in the way.’

    Mr Tamasese’s arrest comes after the United Nations yesterday blamed anti-vaxx propaganda for the unprecedented measles epidemic.

    Almost 4,400 cases – one in every 50 people – have been recorded since the outbreak of the killer infection began last month.

    Samoa, home to just 200,000 people, has since declared a state of emergency as health bosses desperately try to contain the epidemic.

    The island is currently on a two-day shutdown, with the usually bustling capital city has transformed into an eerie ghost town.

    Islanders have been told to stay indoors while emergency workers go door-to-door to give all unvaccinated residents the MMR jab.

    Families have been asked to hang red flags from their homes to signal they have not been vaccinated. Shops, schools and roads have all been closed.

    Mr Tamasese, who wrongly claims quack remedies such as papaya leaf extracts can treat measles, was arrested after an unnamed member of the public complained.

    Samoa’s Office of the Attorney General said the complaint alleged Mr Tamasese said: ‘I’ll be here to mop up your mess. Enjoy your killing spree.’

    Officials said they acted after he ignored previous warnings to stop his campaign. Mr Tamasese has no medical training.

    In a final post on Thursday before his arrest, he described the vaccination drive as ‘the greatest crime against our people’ and said vitamin C would save children.

    He also shared a picture of what appears to be him in the back of a vehicle being driven by two men in blue uniforms.

    It was posted with the caption: ‘Well its come to this. All the parents I have have helped sorry I couldn’t do more [sic].’

    The post had more than 7,000 shares, comments or interactions. The Samoa Observer reports that Mr Tamasese could face two years in jail.

    Stuff reports the charge comes under the 2013 Crimes Act, which makes it illegal to incite hostility against Samoan authorities that may spark protests.

    Communications Minister Afamasaga Rico Tupai said anti-vaxxers spreading conspiracy theories were hindering the unprecedented public health mobilisation.

    ‘The anti-vaxxers unfortunately have been slowing us down,’ he told TVNZ. And he warned anti-vaxxers: ‘Don’t get in the way, don’t contribute to the deaths.

    ‘We've had children who have passed away after coming to the hospital as a last resort and then we find out the anti-vaccine message has got to their families.’

    1. Apparently 6,000 in DRC now? It is an absolute tragedy. (and measles is not exceptionally lethal - so imagine how many have been sick or injured by not getting vaccinated)

      Maybe we need all need more training to debunk myths so that people support vaccines:

    2. the problem is we are dealing with people who are militantly stupid and value spreading their stupidity over assimilating new information - they automatically reject any evidence, any argument, and any facts that do not support their worldview and they particularly refuse to be subject to anything even remotely resembling logic. they spout pseudiscience and woo, and if all else fails, they start calling names in a desperate effort to maintain the pretense that they are smarter than some scientist who must be being paid by big pharma to allow them to continue their hobby of injecting poisons into babies.

      well, actually, they are even worse than that.

  9. cont.

    Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Thursday - the first day of the shutdown - was a success, with 17,500 people receiving their jabs.

    As part of the lockdown, all businesses and non-essential government services were closed and residents ordered to obey a dawn-to-dusk curfew.

    Families were also ordered to display a red flag outside their home to alert mobile immunisation teams if people inside were unvaccinated.

    Yet the infection continued to spread, with the health ministry reporting on Friday morning 140 new cases over the previous 24 hours.

    Only a third of the 200,000 residents on the island had received both their MMR jabs before the outbreak in October.

    A total of 63 people have been killed in a matter of weeks since then – most of whom are babies and children under four.

    Infants are the most vulnerable to measles, which typically causes a rash and fever but can also lead to brain damage and death.

    The UN yesterday said the measles crisis has been fuelled by anti-vaxxers and called for social media giants to crack down on them.

    Sheldon Yett, the regional representative for the UN children's agency, said 'incredibly irresponsible' posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were to blame.

    He said: 'It's quite obvious that there are very loud people on social media making very false claims about vaccines.

    'Unfortunately it's found a ready audience in Samoa, where some people are suspicious about the quality of healthcare and may have issues with local (vaccine) providers.'

    He said activists posting anti-vaccine material from wealthy developed countries needed to realise the impact of their actions in developing nations.

    Fears were raised about the MMR vaccination in Samoa last year when two babies died within minutes of receiving the jab.

    The government briefly suspended its immunisation programme while the cases were investigated.

    When it later emerged the babies were killed by a medical blunder, the public's trust in the jab had already been dented.

    Authorities believe the virus was first spread by a traveller from New Zealand, which suffered a smaller outbreak in September.

    Samoa has received aid to combat the crisis from Australia, New Zealand, France, Britain, China, Norway, Japan, the United States and the UN.

    More than 140,000 people were killed by measles last year amid the resurgence of the killer infection, alarming statistics published yesterday showed.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the 'unprecedented crisis' is set to enter its third year.


    Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spreads easily from an infected person by coughing, sneezing or even just breathing.

    Symptoms develop between six and 19 days after infection, and include a runny nose, cough, sore eyes, a fever and a rash.

    The rash appears as red and blotchy marks on the hairline that travel down over several days, turning brown and eventually fading.

    Some children complain of disliking bright lights or develop white spots with red backgrounds on their tongue.

    In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis.

    Dr Ava Easton, chief executive of the Encephalitis Society told MailOnline: 'Measles can be very serious.

    '[It] can cause encephalitis which is inflammation of the brain.

    'Encephalitis can result in death or disability.'

    Treatment focuses on staying hydrated, resting and taking painkillers, if necessary.

    Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old.

    Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital

    1. 2 of my great grandparents were rendered deaf due to measels at 12 and 3 respectively.
      My home town (this may give to much personal details) had someone with measels. At a local fast food place. I was in that parking lot that day. You can imagine how worried i was that i might be infected even with the vaccination.
      And yet here are all these nutcases saying its harmless. That measels- one of the worst diseases still around- and they call it fucking harmless.
      I hate people.

    2. my great-greats have three tiny graves next to theirs - children who died in infancy from preventable illnesses.

  10. so, in today's news. dad buckled his twins into their car seats, then proceeded to have an accident. they unbuckled themselves, and had to climb over his body to escape the car and climb back up to the road to be rescued.
    and that will be their last memory of their father, BECAUSE HE DIDN'T BUCKLE HIS OWN SEAT BELT.

    1. In similar vein...

      Why don't they wear the belts?

    2. for the same reason people are railing against stay home orders, masks, and social distancing.

      they're stupid.

  11. Always wear your seatbelt- it makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of the car and abduct you.

    1. Oh please dont spread your lies here.
      If the aliens want you that badly, a seat belt is Barely going to slow them down!

  12. Not relevant to this post but a topic I know you have an interest in Doc:

    Looks like asking the court to enforce treatment of your dead child has come to the UK. So far, at least, it looks like UK courts are taking the view that treatment is not in the child's interest.

    1. the wort thing about it is the frightwingers will be all over it with "soshulizm bad" notwithstanding the fact that in the US, the outcome would be the same except the parents would be bankrupt.

    2. We have had multiple cases Charlie Gard where people picketed the hospital, screamed abuse and made threats against staff and even spoke of breaking into the ward he was in, 'rescuing him' and transporting him to a helicopter to take him to an Italian hospital.
      Alfie Evans was another sad case.
      Such parents will refuse to accept the medical facts and convince themselves that their child is not as sick as claimed/can be treated to stop deterioration or even possibly cured. They go through all the courts up to the Supreme court and when they lose go to the European Court of Human Rights and lose there as well.
      Claims made by their supporters claimed it was down to money forgetting that NHS treatment is free and cost the parents nothing regardless of illness of child.
      It all comes down to whether the child will benefit or not unlike in America where if you have the money then regardless of it is in the child's interest or not they will treat the child.
      Tafida Raqeeb was five years old when she was put on life support in February after suffering a catastrophic brain injury.
      Tafida, from Newham, East London, suffered a rare condition which caused a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between her arteries and veins.
      Doctors wanted to take her off life support as she was in a 'minimally conscious state' and on life support.
      Her parents went to court and won and she was moved to Italy where doctors said they couldn't cure her but would care for her etc.
      She has been on life support since Feb last year.
      Currently they have partially weaned her off a ventilator but only for an hour. She is out of ICU and in a rehab room which doesn't really mean that much since she will pretty much always need to be on a ventilator and as she grows older then she will develop other health issues such as epilepsy.
      "We stabilized it with a neurosurgery and performed a tracheotomy to improve respiratory function.

      "She is now an hour detached from the fan: She begins to breathe autonomously. The goal is to consolidate this result."

      The hospital said it would now try to stabilize her to be cared for at home.

      During the high court hearing the Genoa medical team said they did not foresee any therapies that might improve her neurological condition.

      Her neurological state has not changed since being at the Gaslini but she is more comfortable, the hospital said.

      How this will work out now we have had Brexit and left the EU will have to be seen.
      Also Tafida could not see, feel, taste or move and in the future was predicted to develop a number of conditions.

      They include spasticity, spinal curvature, dislocation of the hips, double incontinence and potentially epilepsy.

      What really bugs me is when they say (insert parents name)that only God could end life under(insert religion)name.
      This is bull as if they believed that then they would and should have refused all medical intervention and let their god decided where to let said child/person live or die.
      The moment the doctors intervene to keep the patient alive they are thwarting the loved one's god's wishes on them dying and keeping the patient alive artificially.
      If they removed the heart, stored it correctly and passed an electrical current through the heart to keep it beating, would that mean the person would still be classed as alive?

      As an aside for non-UK readers, our judiciary are not elected.
      They are independent of the Government.

    3. Ken Brown15 February 2020 at 15:14

      the wort thing about it is the frightwingers will be all over it with "soshulizm bad" notwithstanding the fact that in the US, the outcome would be the same except the parents would be bankrupt

      When parents in such cases raise the funds to take their dying child to America for some miraculous treatment that may delay death for a few months, what happens when the funds run out, especially given the shocking charges in US Hospitals for things like a bandaid?
      Will the go through the courts?
      Beg for more donations?
      Accept the inevitable and turn off life support?
      Or what?
      I would be interested to know how it would work.

      Have a great day everyone xx

    4. regarding the heart: they don't even need an electrical current. a disembodied heart will continue to beat as long as it is kept perfused with oxygenated blood.

      I am a bit familiar with Charlie Gard's case since it came up while we were monitoring a family keeping their daughter undead at taxpayer expense for three years before her heart finally failed.

    5. Hi Ken I was following the Jahi case as well when it hit the news.

  13. Doc? you hanging in there? we know it's not your specialty, but the pandemic is affecting everyone.

    1. Glad someone else asked after our favorite Doc...and how about you, Ken?

      I have sent a few pizza meals to first responders in my area as if that might cheer them. 😢 What a horrific time it must be for you/them.

      Myself, I usually work closely with the public including many transients and right before our organization sent us home to begin telecommuting, I began to develop symptoms that may (or may not) have been COVID-19 (e.g. a lingering, 8-day fever of 101°F, severe fatigue, nausea/gastrointestinal issues, vomiting and dry heaving, total loss of appetite, and aches) but as I have no underlying health issues and never developed a cough, I didn't get tested or seek treatment and I have now been fully well again for over a week.

      I'm just eager for when patients who've recently experienced (and recovered from) symptoms like my own might be administered a serological test. It would be invaluable for me to know if I've already had COVID-19 and am now able to serve as a caregiver for family members and friends who may be afflicted in the future or if I might otherwise help others (e.g. blood plasma donor for antibodies, volunteer at my local hospitals, etc.) during this pandemic.

      I tried studying samples of my own blood under my scope but ... heh isn't a very sophisticated one and, anyway, Biology II was all I ever completed back in school. (Usually I just use the scope to hunt and observe tardigrades).😓

      Well, here's hoping those serosurveys take off soon ... and that the vaccine is developed before this first strain mutates further.

      (Stoopid viruses with their stoopid sticky crowns...) 👑😡😷

    2. yeah, fortunately, I'm not first line medical response, so I have that degree of separation from the hot zone. bad thing is we found out Mrs Ken had a possible contact with a person who'd slipped out of spain just before they shut it down - and then caught a cold. so we got to spend a week at home, just to finish out the two weeks. now we're doing the whole temperature screening thing when we go on duty. and so far, so good.

  14. Missing Doc LOTS, and now his Twitter is gone.
    Hope you and your family are well, Doc.

    1. it says suspended, which means he most likely called out a lie from tRump. because tRump can violate every part of the TOS, but let nobody say anything about tRump.

    2. Probably was pointing out that injecting disinfectant is a very, very, very, very, very, very bad idea.

    3. actually, it looks like it was either antivaxxers ganging up on him, or Mercola fans pissed off because he called out mercola's claim that huffing H2O2 would cure coronavirus.

    4. I'm still alive, and my Twitter account was unsuspended. I believe my stint in Twitter Prison was prompted by my use of the #FilmYourHospital hashtag. It was, of course, to point out how it was complete and utter bullshit, but they seemed to suspend a number of accounts that used it regardless of intent.

    5. good to see you alive and well, even just for a driveby.

  15. I am so upset that Doc's Twitter has been deactivated. I have been following him for years. I so appreciate him bluntly speaking the truth and calling people out on their bullshit as there is so much of it out there. Will he be back? We need him.

    1. in case you haven't noticed, he is back out of twitter prison.

  16. just a statistic that came up in conversation. the US kills an average of 39,000 people a year in traffic crashes. we should not be surprised that the same people who drive drunk without seat belts won't take basic precautions to avoid spreading covid.


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Not dead

I'll start this post by answering a few questions that may or may not be burning in your mind: No, I'm not dead.  No, I didn't g...