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Mother shares story of toddler's window fall

Posted on Apr. 7, 2015 ( comments)
April 5 - 11 is National Window Safety Week. As the weather grows warmer, keeping small children safe from window falls becomes ever more important. In the story below, originally published in August 2014, read how a hot summer evening turned into a medical crisis for a family from Gig Harbor.

Children fall out of windows every year. It happens all over the country, especially in the summer. As Gig Harbor mom Heather Cummings learned, it can happen in the blink of an eye.

It was a hot Sunday evening in July. Too hot to sleep, so Heather decided to let her three children play past normal bedtime.

A moment of silence gave way to panic when her daughter Bella, 7, ran into the living room with terrifying news.

The following is an excerpt from Heather's blog about her 3-year-old son Nathaniel's window fall. She is sharing her story to warn parents about the hidden dangers of window falls. 

"'Thaniel fell out my window!"

The world seemed to pause as I sprinted down the stairs, out the front door, down the porch steps and saw my son, moments earlier full of joy and life, now lying face down, on the window screen, on the cement driveway, naked, not moving. Please God. I don't know how I kept my voice so calm, but I needed his sister to help me.

"Bella! Get the phone, dial 911 and bring it to me."

She ran back into the house. I placed my hand on his chest and could feel his breath.

"You’re okay buddy."

He still didn't move.

My neighbor, from across the street ran from her house in hysterics. "Oh my God, Heather! I saw him fall!"

"Call 911, he's breathing!" I yelled back.

At the ER

They wheeled him through the ER, and directly into a large trauma room. I stayed just outside the doorway in the hall. I wasn't who he needed right then. The room flooded with nurses, technicians, doctors, and specialists. Each focused on their personal aspect of his care, but all working in perfect harmony.

He cried softly. Just keep crying. You're gonna be ok.

Complex machinery chirped unintelligible information in a symphony of beeps and blips. I watched his tiny helpless body go limp and lifeless again. People swarmed, I couldn't see past them. There wasn't room for me amid the bustle of activity.

CT scans, X-rays and vitals

CT came back and he had skull fractures above and under the left eye. They were unsure if or how it would affect his vision.

'Thaniel's heart rate seemed a little high and he was moaning. A nurse gave a dose of morphine for the pain. Immediately his heart rate and respiration lowered and he slept. At least my husband understood what all the machines meant. He assured me that 'Thaniel's vitals looked good.

Chest, neck and spinal X-rays had come back clean. The doctor was concerned that he may have some damage, some bruising to his brain just behind the skull fracture, and put out a call to an expert surgeon to get a second opinion. We would have to wait for the specialist to read the results of the scan before we'd know for sure. There was a chance he'd need surgery and the surgeon at Mary Bridge didn't feel comfortable doing it.

In the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Mary Bridge

Things began to look better the following morning. He still wasn't smiling, and he was sleeping a lot, which the doctors said was normal so the brain could heal. We were waiting for urine tests to come back, letting us know if there was any damage to the internal organs.

Monday morning we were able to remove the C-Collar. My husband Thomas handed him the small stuffed walrus that he'd gotten from the EMTs and he grabbed it with his right hand, then immediately dropped it and said his arm hurt.

They hadn't done X-rays of any of his extremities upon arrival, just the chest, neck spine and a CT of the head. Doc did a physical exam of the rest of him and his only complaint was the right forearm just above the wrist. Sure enough, after X-rays we found a buckle fracture. We put a splint on his arm and took this video to send to his big brother and sister.

A skull fracture, wrist fracture and a nasty black eye

The staff at Mary Bridge were amazing. They were kind to Nathaniel throughout his entire ordeal. Day three we were able to move down from PICU to the main medical floor.

All tests finally came back, and 'Thaniel had managed to take that fall and come out with not a scrape on his body from the neck down. A skull fracture, wrist fracture, and a nasty black eye. He was still very low on energy (he lasted two pages of this book before falling asleep) but we knew that he was going to recover.

Nathaniel was discharged from Mary Bridge three days after his fall. He returned five days later to have a cast put on his forearm fracture.

Heather took a photo of him in front of the fountain in front of Mary Bridge Children's Health Center.

According to Heather's blog, Nathaniel wanted to stop and smell all of the roses in the Mary Baker Rose Garden on the walk to the car.

"I let him," Heather said.

Read the full story about Nathaniel's fall on Heather's blog Side Yard Flock.

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