This article was originally published on Aug. 27, 2012.
What were the odds?
Two boys playing ball in a backyard in Whitehall Borough in May turned into a painful nightmare for 9-year-old Adam Feth of Whitehall. But thanks to some new technology, the nightmare didn't last long.
Adam and a friend were simply playing at the Feths' place in the 4300 block of Highgrove Road when their game spilled over into a wooded area at the end of the backyard.
The pair's baseball had rolled into the woods, and Adam went after it. What happened next could have happened to anyone.
Adam's shoe caught a twig, a stone, anything—something large enough to cause him to trip—before he landed on the ground with, basically, a log stuck in the meat of his shin.
The tree branch, which Adam's mother, Debbie, said was about 6-feet long, had a smaller, sharp stick coming out of it, and when Adam fell, his right leg went straight onto it, causing the wood to pierce his flesh an inch-and-a-half deep and an inch wide.
The image was incredible, his mother said.
And so was the pain, according to her son.
"I thought that I was gonna die," Adam sheepishly admitted when asked to reflect on the ordeal.
The Baldwin-Whitehall Patch caught up with Adam and Debbie this month, just a few days prior to Adam running in the Whitehall Community Day's 5,000-meter race. Yes, he's all healed.
In fact, Adam was back to playing baseball just 10 days after the log was surgically removed at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and his leg stitched up.
Surprisingly, the hole left by the log only needed four stitches to close. Debbie explained that doctors wanted to keep Adam's wound loose to deal with possible infections.
Luckily for Adam, there was no infection, but there is a pretty gnarly scar, one that he proudly showed off after finishing the Whitehall 5K on Saturday.
And while Adam's injury and rescue were pretty incredible—the Whitehall Fire Company brought in heavy-duty shears ("Jaws of Life") to free him from most of the log—what happened next inside of an ambulance was also rather amazing.
Though Adam was under the influence of some powerful painkillers courtesy of Medical Rescue Team South Authority (MRTSA), he was also calmed down immensely inside of MRTSA's truck by a heavy dose of Angry Birds, the video game popularly played on iPads and other electronic devices.
The boy who had been howling in pain and fright just minutes earlier sat quietly in the ambulance on his way to the hospital for the next 15 minutes, knocking down pigs with kamikaze birds with just a flick of his finger.
MRTSA, which has a six-municipality service area of Baldwin Township, Mt. Lebanon, and Whitehall, Castle Shannon, Dormont and Green Tree boroughs, has had much success keeping patients and their loved ones distracted with its iPads, said paramedic Jesse Siefert, who was at the Feths' the day of the tree branch incident and helped to care for Adam.
"Yet another iPad success story," Siefert said. "His mom was so cool in the back of the ambulance.
"We are continually looking at ways to integrate technology into our daily operations to become more efficient and provide better patient care.
"I really believe we are only beginning to see the potential in these devices."
As for that potential, Debbie said that she learned from Siefert that MRTSA might be installing other apps on their iPads soon in order to better assist non-English-speaking patients. Installing apps to help to communicate with patients who are unable to speak at all is another possibility, as is digital record-keeping.
Adam is the first pediatric patient to use one of MRTSA's iPads, Debbie said, but luckily for future patients, he won't be the last.
"You're not really thinking about your injury," Adam said.
Never mind that jagged piece of wood jutting from your leg.
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