Safety's cardinal rule: Just don't get hurt

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Sep 01, 2006



I recently read an article touting the 10 safest cities in the United States. I could hardly believe my eyes. My town was not even mentioned.

It just so happens that I live right on the outskirts of the safest city in America if not the entire world, Macungie, Pennsylvania (pronounced; mack un'gee).

Perhaps you are thinking that my town is too small to have made the list. Well, let me straighten you out. We not only have a traffic light in Macungie, but often we have it turned on.

Our safety record is impeccable. We do not have earthquakes or tornadoes in Macungie. There are no killer bees or fire ants either. Not only that, but I have it on good authority (Kermit down at the feed store) that there has never been a fatal shark attack in all of the Macungie's history. (I am not making this up.) If you recall movie the Jaws, you will have to admit that Macungie was not mentioned even once.

Furthermore, international terrorist organizations are completely ignorant as to the existence of this metropolis. Thus, my assessment is that we are relatively safe from attack.

I share these facts with you in order to establish my credentials as an expert on all matters regarding safety. (Just living near Macungie makes me a safety guru.)

It was this self-acquired expertise that led me eight years ago to launch a comprehensive workplace safety program at my clinic. Their very first day on the job, all employees are instructed in each and every aspect of the program. This is easily accomplished because there is only one rule; don't get hurt!

Here's how my system could be applied in your practice. Suppose Mrs. Hotpipes runs into your office and announces that her cat, Ambush, has crawled under her car in the parking lot. Naturally, she expects you to crawl under the car to get him out. If this had happened to you yesterday, you might have jumped at the chance to be a hero. Now, however, after learning my rule, you would politely decline her invitation.

Let's try another hypothetical situation.

Mr. Harebrain arrives for his appointment, but his dog, Carnage, is left waiting in the car.

"I can't get him out of there, Doc," he announces. "He will bite at anything that moves near him. The way he is wedged in behind the seat, there is no way I can even touch him without getting bitten. Can you crawl in and give him the shot were he is?"

You are probably thinking something like: "Oh, well, all in a day's work."

No, no, no. You are forgetting my rule. You need to handle this by saying something like: "Are you nuts? I'm not going in there."

Are you getting the idea now?

Let's try another.

You enter the exam room to find Mrs. Spacey and her dog, Thug. There is a 6-year-old boy holding the dog. "Thug will probably behave this time," she boldly predicts. "You won't need those gloves, the restraint pole, the muzzle and the two helpers like last time because he will behave if little Timmy holds him."

Do you follow her advice? Not if you follow mine. Send for the gloves, extra technicians and muzzle. And, don't get hurt.

To sum it all up, my rules for ensuring a long and happy existence on this planet are simple. Don't get hurt and consider moving to Macungie.

Dr. Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.