Special gift keeps father's injury at bay

June 18, 2015

Farmer and daughter_Medium

Maria Flor, registered nurse and trauma coordinator at Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield, gave her dad, Randy Therkilsen, a special, potentially life-saving gift for Father’s Day last year. That special gift was a tourniquet, and less than a year later, the device prevented a serious injury Therkilsen sustained from becoming much worse.

“We were inside of a big tank on wheels releasing a bearing off of a shaft,” says Therkilsen, who was working on farm equipment at the family shop on March 27, 2015 when the injury occurred. “A piece of shrapnel came off the bearing race and went in my wrist and nicked a vein. So, then we had a lot of blood coming out.”

Therkilsen had been striking the shaft with a hammer when a piece of metal chipped from the shaft, entered his skin and lacerated a vein. After realizing direct pressure wasn’t enough to stop the bleeding, he asked his son, Paul, and another shop worker to grab his tourniquet from his truck. Therkilsen called his wife, Mo, to bring him to the Emergency Department (ED) at Mayo Clinic Health System in Springfield. Once at the ED, Flor’s mother called her to provide an update and let her explain to the nurses how her dad had the tourniquet.

“The nurse was surprised that dad had a tourniquet,” says Flor. “She asked me if he had really received it from me as a gift.”

While a tourniquet probably isn’t at the top of birthday and Father’s Day gift lists, it makes sense for Flor and her dad. Flor has been a trauma coordinator with Mayo Clinic Health System for more than four years and a nurse for 17. One of her missions as part of the trauma team is to inform farmers and others about the protective benefits of having a readily available tourniquet.

“Tourniquets save lives. They save limbs. Of injured people who die from blood loss, most die within 30 minutes. It’s so important to control and stop the bleeding,” says Flor. Regarding her father’s injury, she adds, “Had he not been able to control that bleeding, things could have spiraled downward pretty quickly.”

Therkilsen’s quick action with the tourniquet along with the efforts of the Springfield ED staff controlled the bleeding. The ED staff then decided Therkilsen needed to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester to have the shrapnel removed. Flor and Mo drove him to Rochester to have the metal piece extracted. Today, Therkilsen is feeling well and back to the work he’s been doing for years — with his special gift nearby.

“(My daughter said), ‘Dad, take this (tourniquet) in case you ever need it.’ Well, she knows my past history, so she was pretty sure I’d get to use it sometime,” says Therkilsen with an appreciative grin.

The tourniquet message is preached throughout all of Mayo Clinic, with Flor and other trauma experts leading the charge. The group is taking to farm shows and other venues to provide education and demonstrations.

“I believe there should be a tourniquet in every combine, just as there is in every ambulance,” says Donald Jenkins, director of Mayo Clinic’s Level I Trauma Center in Rochester.

Flor echoes that ideology and is happy she now has a personal success story to help illustrate the point.

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