The 2-year-old drank the eye makeup remover.
The dog, belonging to one sister and being dog-sit by another sister, found the rat poison intended to take care of any field rats that might come near the house.
A scorpion, of which there have been plenty the last few years, applied the hurt to someone who had not been stung before.
In each case, the parent, caregiver or the affected individual called the Oklahoma Poison Center in Oklahoma City. The center serves all 77 counties in the state and receives about 50,000 calls annually, said the center's managing director Scott Schaeffer.
Of those, about 35,000 are related to exposure, “where somebody has actually been poisoned, taken too much of their medication or their child has maybe taken too much of grandma's medication or got into someone's medicine bottle,” Schaeffer said.
The center, staffed 24 hours, includes nine full-time and three part-time employees. The number of individuals taking calls often depends on the time of the day.
“When someone calls the poison center they're going to get a registered pharmacist or a nurse,” Schaeffer said. “So they've had extensive training, both in poisoning and toxicology and they have real-life experience, treating patients, being out there dispensing drugs, giving medication advice.
“You're talking to somebody who really knows what they're talking about. We also hire students at the OU College of Pharmacy. They'll answer questions where stuff is essentially nontoxic and refer the call to one of our specialists if the situation is more serious.”
In addition to experience, the pharmacists and nurses in the center have other readily available resources, he said.
If needed, the nurse or pharmacist in the Oklahoma Poison Center can contact the center's medical director, Dr. William Banner. Also, if needed, they can contact translation services if the caller does not speak English.
While the majority of calls come from parents or caregivers, about 20 percent are from medical professionals who are caring for patients either at an emergency room, in an intensive care unit or in other areas of a hospital. The medical professional may also be calling if a person has taken too much medication or in some cases, not enough of the prescribed medication. Paramedics also are among those who call the center.
Plus, the center's data is shared in real-time with the American Association of Poison Control Centers, which monitors exposures from across the nation looking for indications of disease outbreak, chemical spills, bioterrorism and more, Schaeffer said.
“We try and handle anything that is thrown to us,” Schaeffer said. “If a toddler gets into a medication, or if a person has a bite or a sting via by a snake or a scorpion, a bat, a dog, we'll handle those calls.
“If we don't have the necessary expertise, we can call in our resources, experts in other fields, they'll help us out.''
Schaeffer said any time someone suspects somebody might have been poisoned, they should call.
“Just call us,” he said. “We'll help you decide whether or not this is a problem. If we can help you out, we'll follow up and make sure everything is OK.”
He said “if things start to head south we'll help you decide when it's time to go ahead and get seen by a physician” or professional medical caregiver.
Schaeffer said that although many callers need information in response to a poison situation, he would like the public to consider them as a drug information source as well. If somebody wants to know about their medication, whether they can take it safely with another medication or about the possible side effects, “we're here as a resource.”
What would be examples of when a person likely shouldn't call the Oklahoma Poison Center?
“I would say if somebody is having seizures, not breathing or is unconscious, call an ambulance,” he said. “Essentially we're going to route you that way. If they are in an immediate life-threatening situation, call an ambulance. If they (paramedics) need our assistance, they'll patch us in.”
On a more humorous note, Schaeffer said that through the years he took some calls he couldn't really assist with, “Such as what's the road conditions like on the way to Topeka?”
The call comes in
Randy Badillo is a registered nurse and is the senior specialist at the Oklahoma Poison Center.
A call came in on a recent morning regarding a child who may have ingested a small amount of a topical muscle rub. Badillo went through several questions with an adult whom he thinks was the child's mother: “How old is the child? How much does he weigh? When did this happen? How much of this stuff are we talking about?”
He told her that items such as muscle rubs are “so unpleasant to the taste that most children really get a taste or lick of it and quit.”
“I did share with the caller that I look at these types of exposures like I would look at an aspirin exposure,” Badillo said.
The 2-year-old who drank the eye makeup remover was Angela K. Thompson's daughter, Leah.
“They asked all the normal questions like name, address and so on and then I told them what she drank,” Thompson said. “Within a minute they had every ingredient that was inside the makeup remover. Then they asked me how much she drank and told me what she drank would not be life-threatening and then they told me what to expect.
“They were professional, courteous and I wouldn't hesitate to call again, if the need arises.”
In the case with the dog getting into the rat poisoning, Myka Maxwell was told how to induce vomiting for the dog. The dog did vomit. The dog was fine. And Maxwell said the center called her back to check on the dog.
Schaeffer has about 20 years' experience at the Oklahoma Poison Center.
An example of a call several years ago that has stayed with Schaeffer regarded a small girl. He was told her parents had bought a new property and had been diligent “in trying to clean the place out real well as far as anything that might have been left behind.”
“However, that child, because they are so inquisitive, found a bottle of something that was corrosive that the parents had just missed,” Schaeffer said. “Being a child, she had a liquid bottle and she tipped it up and drank it and got really severe burns in her throat which can be a life-threatening kind of thing.
“I guess it touched me so much because the parents had tried hard to make sure this was a safe residence for their child and just that one thing ...''
Poisons are everywhere — kitchen, garage, bathroom and indoors or outdoors, he said. The response of those answering calls at the Poison Control Center is not a one-size-fits-all approach. However, Schaeffer said he has learned one thing that has proved true time after time.
“A 2-year-old with a step stool is a dangerous situation,” he said.