First aid kit: Building a lifesaver box

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Solid preparation and safety are a part of the Minnesota way. Everyone should make a concerted effort to protect their health. Having access to a first aid kit should be taken just as seriously as fire alarms and flashlights. You never know when disaster may strike, but you can be ready to take on the brunt of injuries and illness that come with it.

Should I buy or build?

Browsing through the dozens of premade first aid kits online can be a fun time sink, but nothing will ever beat the DIY approach. This is an opportunity to make the kit of your dreams, complete with every tool or gadget needed to suit your lifestyle. The first aid kit a car mechanic needs in his shop may differ significantly from a suburban housewife’s in a drawer by the sink. As a bonus, by choosing pieces individually, you can maintain a higher level of quality control while truly learning the inner workings of your kit.

Only the essentials

Building a first aid can be a great family activity.

Building a first aid kit can be a great family activity.

Tri-County Health Care Emergency Medical Services Manager Cole Lugert weighed in on the topic and shared some of the essential items he believes should be in every personalized first aid kit. Find his list below.

  • Band-Aids
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • A towel
  • Tourniquet

Additionally, Cole stressed the need to choose the best location for the kit. Just throwing it in the closet or on a shelf under your socket set isn’t good enough. Place the items in a secure watertight case of some kind. They should be kept away from liquids and storage temperature should always be considered. Ultimately, the best place is one you won’t forget and can be accessed quickly in stressful situations.

Personalize it!

Make the kit your own by adding items specifically tailored to the health needs of you and your family. Furthermore, make sure to include special medications, inhalers and EpiPen’s. Just be careful not to overpack the kit. While packing, ask yourself, Do I need this item? Do I even know how to use it? Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to seek out additional training.

Use the American Red Cross as a guide for more information on first aid kits and watch the video below.

Charles Carlson: Helping the heart

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“Tri-County saved my baby,” uttered Katarina Carlson during an interview about her experience at Tri-County Health Care. Katarina and her son Charles are no strangers to hospitals and clinics. Her journey through childbirth was fraught with stress, fear, uncertainty, but also hope. It’s American Heart Month and Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week (Feb. 7-14), so we felt Katarina’s story would have a powerful effect on expecting mothers while spreading awareness about heart defects in young children.

Charles lost oxygenated blood flow to the lower part of his body.

In May 2019, Katarina Carlson gave birth to her son Charles at Tri-County Health Care. Katarina experienced no difficulties. Charles was a healthy and happy little boy. It was a joyous time and Katarina was excited to finally hold her baby boy. Soon the family would be able to say goodbye to the staff that made her birth so easy and bring Charles to his new home.

The beginning

After some mom time, Charles was taken for evaluation and testing, a common practice for every newborn. Although the birth had gone well, something was off. The oximetry results seemed a little concerning. Not wanting to alarm Katarina, the medical staff were quick to troubleshoot the situation. They hoped it was simply an error or an issue with the equipment monitor. Heidi Olson, M.D., inspected the data thoroughly. She knew something was amiss; the numbers didn’t sit well with her. Before sending Katarina home, she insisted on running another oxygen test. The data indicated something was not right, which sent nurses and OB staff rushing to discover what was wrong with baby Charles.

As the tension ramped up, Charles’s lower extremities started turning blue. He was losing oxygen to the lower portion of his body. This caused a flurry of doctors and nurses attempting to diagnose the issue. The stress and fear quickly set in for Katarina. She couldn’t bear to see the doctors running to the nursery. “I was in full-blown panic mode,” said Katarina. She was three hours away from discharge. If Dr. Olson hadn’t called for further testing, she would have been on her way home. If it weren’t for Dr. Olson’s suspicion, Charles could have died.

Charles was air lifted to Fargo for further testing.

“We could have taken him home and lost him,” said Katarina.

Flying out

The complications suffered by Charles were beyond serious. It was obvious he was only getting blood flow to his brain. Charles needed to be moved to a bigger hospital as quickly as possible. In 10 minutes, a medical chopper from Fargo was en route to Tri-County Health Care. When the chopper team arrived, Charles was attached to breathing equipment. The chopper crew had to re-soften his umbilical cord so they could insert an IV. The chopper ascended from the hospital. Katarina and her family raced to their vehicle so they could follow the helicopter to Fargo.

After arriving in Fargo, she sat down with a cardiologist that explained the situation. They discovered Charles had an interruption of the aortic arch. This is a rare congenital heart condition when the aorta doesn’t form correctly. The aorta delivers oxygenated blood throughout the body. Still, when a baby suffers from an interruption of the aortic arch, the aorta is divided so blood cannot flow to the lower portion of the body.

Katarina was informed that Charles would require open-heart surgery. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard,” explained Katarina. Her birth went from pleasant to a nightmare in the blink of an eye. Katarina boarded a jet. She and Charles were headed to Masonic Children’s Hospital. This moment would be the starting point to months of hospital visits and more surgeries. In total, Charles would receive 8 surgeries.

Surviving and thriving

Charles survived. With the help of modern medicine and a litany of doctors and nurses, Charles is now a happy three-year-old boy. He still has medical problems associated with his heart defect but he’s doing better than ever. He is thriving but still requires care and outpatient therapy.

“The love I felt from all these strangers made me feel like my son was going to be taken care of,” said Katarina. Katarina adamantly believes that Tri-County Health Care and its gifted staff saved her son. She was incredibly grateful for Dr. Olson. They continue to utilize her as the primary care provider for Charles.

Charles is doing better than ever!


Are you prepared for extreme winter weather?

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It’s cold in the Midwest. We’re Minnesotans. We’re used to it. But last week tested our arctic hardiness as record low temperatures swept across the region. While warmer weather is on the horizon, this a great time to ask ourselves if we truly are ready if a winter emergency should strike.Senior man calling for help during a winter snow storm. His car lies in the ditch.

When it comes to driving in weather like this, you should make sure you have a winter survival kit at the ready. It’s also a good idea to keep the survival items inside your car, not in your trunk because if you were trapped, you would have no way to access them.

Here are some items to consider keeping in your winter survival kit:


Keep in Your Car:

Candle and matches: A great way to produce heat is with a candle inside a metal can. In cold weather, it’s typically better to use matches instead of a lighter as the butane can’t light if temps are too low. If you do run your car for warmth, only run it for 10 minutes at a time and make sure the exhaust is not blocked by ice or snow, which can create a deadly build-up of carbon monoxide.

Flashlight: Whether changing a tire or taking a look under the hood, a flashlight always comes in handy. Keep spare batteries as well.

Cell phone car charger: Cell phones are crucial for calling for help, but that’s only if they’re charged.

Notepad and Pen/Pencil: In an emergency, you never know when you might need to write down a phone number, license plate or a driver’s license.

First Aid Kit: Include gauze, Band-Aids, spare medication, and other essentials.

Photo of Man cleaning snow in the winter near the car with shovel in nature.Winter gear: Staying warm is your number-one priority if you’re stranded and waiting for help. Keep an extra hat, gloves/mittens, and boots in case you need to get out of your car.

Blanket: When paired with your winter gear, a blanket can keep you warm until help arrives.

Cash: Not everyone accepts cards, and you may need to pay for emergency gas or a tow.

Nonperishable food: Stock up with food such as granola bars, nut butter, raisins or chocolate chips.


Keep in Your Trunk:

Tire gauge: Tire problems are common in cold weather, so be sure to check your tire pressure regularly. You may also consider keeping a portable air compressor in your car for when your tires are low.

Tool kit: Minor tweaks and repairs can sometimes be accomplished with tools such as a screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench and duct tape.

Absorbent: Keep a little bag of floor sweep absorbent, kitty litter or dirt to sprinkle in front of your tires for traction if you get stuck.

Reflective warning triangles: One of the biggest threats when your car breaks down is being hit by other cars. Reflective warning signs, combined with your flashers, can alert other drivers to your presence.

Jumper cables: You never know if the person who comes to save you will have jumper cables, so it’s best to carry your own just in case. You could also purchase a portable power pack that can be used to jump start your vehicle.warning triangle with winter car breakdown in background.

Foldable shovel: If you need to dig snow out from around your tires or clear snow from around your exhaust, a shovel does a much better job than your hands. A foldable shovel is portable and easy to store.


Additional tips:

  • Check and update your emergency kit every year.
  • If you have children, be sure to pack enough in your emergency kit to accommodate everyone.
  • Before driving, clear snow and ice from your headlights and taillights so that you will be more visible to other drivers.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia, as detailed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. In temperatures below zero, these conditions can happen in a matter of minutes if you are not careful and paying attention.


Before you head out, take a look at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s driving and travel checklist or winter survival tips in your car.

ED saves man’s life after post-surgery infection

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Kenny Beesley was first introduced to the construction trade when he was just 13. From that point on, he was hooked. He developed his craft and made it his full-time profession. But in 2016, at the age of 35, he fell from a ladder while working on a house.

“I had a big ol’ bruise on my side,” he said, but the damage extended much deeper. The fall resulted in two fractured vertebrae and three herniated discs, which led to arthritis and degenerative disc disease. “I couldn’t even sit up straight. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t sleep.”


Recovery gone awry

Since his accident, Kenny has been plagued by pain and impairment, rendering him unable to work. He recently began to have surgery to try to help his chronic injury.

Construction rooferHis first lumbar surgery to trim a portion of his spinal discs was performed on Thursday, Sept. 13, in St. Cloud. The surgery went well, and he was able to return home.

On Saturday, however, he spiked a high fever and began experiencing uncontrollable pain in his back and shooting down his legs to his toes.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t stand. I was just miserable.”

When his wife, Amy, returned home from work, they rushed to the emergency department (ED) at Tri-County Health Care. Dennis Faith, M.D., examined Kenny, tested the sensation in his legs and found that despite the severe nerve pain, his legs were completely numb.

“I had a blood pocket in my incision,” Kenny explained. “They said I had an infection somewhere in my body and did not know where.”

Dr. Faith knew the surgeon who had performed Kenny’s surgery in St. Cloud and immediately reached out to update him on the situation. From there, the ED staff sent Kenny by ambulance to St. Cloud where he had surgery on Sunday to treat the infection and repair the incision.

“They did really good. It wasn’t like in and out. They made sure everything that needed to be done was done before I had to go to St. Cloud,” Kenny said. “They said if I would have gone home, I would have died.”


Relief and reliable care

Kenny was glad to be back home after his weekend emergency, but the reprieve was short-lived. On Tuesday, a friend was helping him change his bandages when it caught on his butterfly stitchesEmergency room patient, Kenny Beesley with his wife Amy. and ripped three of the six off of his surgery incision. It began leaking fluid, so he and his wife hurried back to the ED.

This time, Amadin Osayomore, M.D., was the doctor in charge. He assessed Kenny’s needs and quickly mobilized his team to repair Kenny’s stitches.

“He looked at me and told them to fix me up. It was really good,” Kenny said. “He shook my hand and said, ‘Have a good day, sir.’ He was a really polite man.”

Kenny said that he doesn’t think his condition will ever get better, but it’s something that he’s learning how to live with. And future surgeries may be able to bring him some relief. “I hurt really bad, but it’s a fact of life. I’m not done with surgeries yet,” he said.

Now that he’s had a few encounters in the Tri-County ED, he is thankful for the staff’s efficiency and dedication to his care. “I just think they’re doing a good job,” Kenny said. “Even when I was really upset, they calmed me down and told me it’s going to be all right. They’ve done really good with me, so that’s why I come here.”