On Tuesday, December 17, 2019 Firefighters for Healing will ring in the holiday season with their annual Gift Drop to patients in Hennepin Healthcare’s Burn Center. The excitement begins when the firefighters and gifts arrive on a Minneapolis Fire Department truck at Hennepin Healthcare’s 717 S. Sixth St. entrance between 10:45 and 11:45am.
“This is the 8th year Firefighters for Healing has brought gifts to our patients,” explains Dr. Ryan Fey, Burn and Critical Care Specialist at the Burn Center. “Their generosity and dedication is simply overwhelming, and our entire staff is uplifted by seeing the joy experienced by our patients. We cannot thank them enough.”
The Hennepin Healthcare Burn Center provides intensive, acute and rehabilitative burn care to children and adults from the Twin Cities and surrounding states who have sustained burn injuries and other complex wounds, including frostbite. In fact, they care for an average of 25 patients with frostbite each year requiring hospitalization. Many of these injuries are to the toes and feet.
Dr. Fey describes how this happens: “From the heart, these body parts are the last in line for blood supply. So they’re more likely to freeze up quickly – literally forming ice crystals inside the tissues – and cause blood flow to cease. Depending on how long the tissue is without blood, this process can lead to unrecoverable tissue death and amputation.”
Ice Foot Challenge
Making sure those extremities are protected from the cold is essential. That’s why Hennepin EMS in partnership with the Hennepin Healthcare Employee Advisory Council is having an Ice Foot Challenge to raise awareness of their Hennepin EMS Holiday Sock Drive. Two groups will participate at 12:20 and 12:40pm and photo opportunities will be available immediately following the Firefighters for Healing Gift Drop event. Participants will experience what patients may feel when they don’t have adequate footwear to keep their feet warm and dry.
“Hennepin EMS frequently treats individuals with inadequate footwear and socks,” explains John Sylvester, Hennepin EMS paramedic and event organizer. “In the winter this can cause serious problems that can affect the whole body. One solution is high-quality, wool winter socks which are great insulators and moisture absorbers.”
To emphasize this point, Sylvester has invited Ice Foot Challenge participants to put on plastic “foot bags” and then submerge their feet into buckets of icy water for a goal time of 2 minutes. After the 2-minute Ice Foot Challenge, participants will be given warm socks to put on so they can experience what a difference high-quality winter socks can make in extreme cold conditions.
“Taking this challenge to really understand what it’s like to ‘walk in our patients’ shoes’ will hopefully raise awareness of this important need,” said Sylvester. “If we can prevent even one person from experiencing the pain of frostbite, then this campaign will have been a success.”
Firefighters for Healing is also making a generous donation of new socks for this effort today that will be given to patients in need served through Hennepin EMS and HCMC’s Emergency Department. New wool sock donations are welcomed and can be brought to the collection bin on the Skyway Level of HCMC’s Red Building. The Hennepin EMS Sock Drive runs through January 3, 2020.