From The ER: Six Life Saving Lessons

Dr. Travis Stork, ER Doc and co-host of the Emmy-award winning show,  THE DOCTORS shared life saving lessons with Prevention Magazine this month.

On his first night as an attending physician, moonlighting in the ER of a rural southern hospital, Travis Stork, MD, got his first postgraduate lesson in life and death. “A father frantically ran into the ER carrying a young boy who was unresponsive and barely breathing,” recalls Dr. Stork, the Emmy-nominated cohost of the award-winning talk show The Doctors and the author of The Lean Belly Prescription. When the child’s breathing became more faint and his lips started turning blue, Dr. Stork knew he had to act quickly. “I was prepared, but, to be honest, I was also a little bit scared. I knew that it was up to me and only me to figure out what was wrong and do whatever was necessary to save his life. You could have cut the tension in the room with a knife, because this little hospital was not used to dealing with a dying child.”

And neither was he. “You may think I’m going to say that I took heroic action and saved his life. But to be frank, it was my years of training that saved his life. That and I took a deep breath. That deep breath turned any fear into focus, and I did what I was taught to do: I doctored.”

He found out that the boy had taken some of his grandfather’s medicine—medicine that can cause an erratic heart rate, seizures, and, ultimately, death. Dr. Stork inserted a breathing tube and administered IV meds, which helped save the child’s life.

For Dr. Stork, it was a lesson learned. “Ever since that night, I have been able to make the necessary decisions and take action from a place of calm, with a level of focus I never even knew that I had,” he says. “And it always starts with a deep breath.”

His first lesson: “most people in the ER, don’t have to be.”  He states that “the sad fact is that many of the illnesses and accidents that come into my emergency room are 100% preventable.”  His second lesson: “If you’re a caregiver, don’t forget to take care of yourself.” Stork includes the tip: “pay attention to your stress and make sure to get enough sleep.” His third lesson: “Taking a deep breath can make any stressful situation better”  offering sage advice: “as I get older, I realize that it’s not always about pushing yourself to go harder or faster—sometimes what you really need to get through a stressful situation is to slow down for a minute and take a deep breath.” Click here to read Dr. Stork’s complete article.

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