Letter to the Editor: by Alan Drake, Seconds Matter – And the ER Matters



It was January 30, 2015.  Billie Jo and I were attending a home Tiger basketball game.  The Tigers were winning, the crowd was loud and supportive of their team, and all was good until it wasn’t!  I had been blessed with good health, a great job, and a wonderful family; that was about to change!


Toward the end of the Tigers boys’ game, I lost control of my right arm; my fingers were moving but I was not moving them.  My senses were hazy and my cognitive ability was very limited.  Billie Jo noticed that I was having trouble, so at the end of the game, medical assistance was requested.


After a quick examination by the medical personnel who were so generous to help, an ambulance was called.  With the Fort Scott fire department also present, I was transported immediately to the Mercy ER.


When I arrived at the Mercy ER, the emergency department team quickly assessed me and ordered a CT scan.  The ER team also utilized the telemedicine program for a second set of eyes to make a diagnosis.


It was determined that I had experienced a stroke.  Of course, time is of the essence and within minutes of the diagnosis the ER team gave me a tPA injection, which is a clot buster drug.


My condition before receiving the drug consisted of very slurred speech, a mind that did not know my birthday or how old I was, and a lack of mental awareness.  I was 67 years old at this time but I tried to claim a much younger age of 51.  It did not work!


A medical helicopter was requested and I was flown to the St. Luke’s hospital in Kansas City.  On the helicopter ride my memory and my speech slowly returned.  Upon arriving at St. Luke’s I was a 2 (minor stroke) on the stroke severity rating, down from a 12 (moderate stroke) rating at the Mercy ER.  Thank you tPA!


I stayed at St. Luke’s from early Saturday morning to late Tuesday evening.  I think about and thank the Lord that I was blessed with so many caring medical personnel who virtually saved my life.

I think about the ER vote to be held on May 14, with some early voting.  The ER was such a critical factor in my life, and without the immediate attention and treatment that I received I know that I would have had life long challenges with my health.


I have four great grandchildren, three living in Fort Scott.  I am able to play with them, support them in their activities, as well as enjoying my entire family – all because seconds and the ER mattered!


I will vote YES for the ER, not just because the ER saved my life, but because the ER will save so many other lives!  Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.  It is preventable and treatable, but time is critical.  Every year more than 795,000 Americans will suffer a stroke.


An ER will give our citizens a better chance to survive critical situations.  Life is precious!


Please vote YES for the ER, and please know the signs of a stroke.


Think FASST!

Face – Ask the person to smile.  Does the face look uneven?

Arm – Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one drift down?

Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  Does his or her speech sound strange?

Sight – Is there a sudden loss of vision?

Time – Don’t waste time.  Act fast and call 911.


Alan and Billie Jo Drake





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *