Spike in injuries from ladder falls

Dale Yurong Image
Saturday, December 13, 2014
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It shouldn't pain people to enjoy the bright lights and holiday cheer.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It shouldn't pain people to enjoy the bright lights and holiday cheer. But doctors have seen a rise in injuries involving people falling off ladders.

Sometimes people need to think more about safety than their elaborate Christmas decorations. This year Community Regional Medical Center has treated close to 200 people who injured themselves falling off a ladder. Several patients suffered brain trauma and spinal cord injuries.

Physician assistant Tammi Groom explained, "It's predominantly males between the ages of 60 to 85 and they get on a ladder and they've been working their whole lives so they can do it themselves. They fall off a ladder putting up Christmas tree lights, trying to clean out the gutter of their house."

Groom said an 80 year old man putting up lights died after falling from a ladder. North Fork carpenter Mark Mackey knows how quickly it can happen. Last year he fell while framing a wall at the Veteran's Administration hospital.

Mackey said, "When I felt my tool belt hang up I took my eyes off to see what it was that's when I missed the step."

Mark missed the lowest step on a four-foot ladder but he was seriously injured. "I fell on the ground and broke my right arm severely, the left hand navicular and lost an inch of tendon in this one and had some head trauma."

Mackey needed a year to recover from his injuries. He is now very careful and much more aware when he uses a ladder.

"Especially putting ornaments on a Christmas tree or lights on the house or any of that, it's very dangerous. I've learned a very important lesson," explained Mackey.

You should never stand on the top of a ladder. It also helps to have a spotter.

Groom said, "We're telling people to have a safe holiday season and re-think the ladder."

Christmas should be a fun and pain-free tradition.

Groom added it's a good idea for younger folks to step in when grandpa or maybe your father or older uncles set out to put up or take down the Christmas lights and decorations.