DALLAS, TX – Search and rescue operations are underway to locate anesthesiologist Kelly Doolittle in operating room (OR) 5 at Dallas Medical Center after an avalanche of neatly-pressed drapes tumbled on top of her shortly before a 10 AM case.
“She was getting ready before a case when out of nowhere a ten-foot wall of drapes starting roaring down the supply closet,” recalled scrub tech Louis Rostam, who managed to outrun the drape avalanche. “We called for help immediately.”
A drape avalanche is arguably an anesthesiologist’s greatest fear during a case because it can hit unpredictably before any chance of escape or completion of a crossword puzzle. An anesthesiologist is likely to suffocate under the oxygen-poor drapes unless he or she is savvy enough to self-intubate before becoming buried.
Rostam alerted search and rescue teams, and after the OR was secured operations began to locate Doolittle.
The search was initially complicated by the frigid, arctic conditions of OR 5; Doolittle was preparing for an orthopedic case, which often requires OR temperatures dropping to absolute zero. The search was delayed for fifteen minutes as members of the rescue team added extra layers of clothing to prevent the development of frostbite. Luckily once back into OR, the search and rescue team was immediately able to spot a trail of sudoku. With that and the help of their avalanche rescue canines, Doolittle was quickly located.
“We were able to dig out her head and get her oxygen, and the first thing she asked is if her sudoku was okay,” said Watson Jacobs, who led the search and rescue operation. “But we still have a long ways to go in terms of digging out the rest of her body. That’s a sh*t ton of drapes in there.”
Jacobs is considered using explosive charges to expedite the rescue with nightfall looming.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has asked all anesthesiologists to hang their drapes at “half staff” to show solidarity with their colleague. Gomerblog will continue to follow as updates develop.