Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Minnesota State Fair and Mummy’s Nummies

The Minnesota State fair is one of the biggest in the country. Last year over 1,788,512 – that’s one million, seven hundred eighty-eight THOUSAND, five hundred and twelve people attending PER DAY! at the week-long event.  

Last year as I waded through the crowds I wondered what it would be like to be part of the medical response team at such an event. I had a paramedic friend who had volunteered at Woodstock II in New York in 1999 and came home actually traumatized by the event.

There is not going to be an appreciable amount of drugs and overdoses at the State Fair, so I am not worried about having to be de-briefed after my stint. Yes – I was accepted yesterday! I have 3 shifts during the coming week. I sent in an email with my credentials querying what their needs were and if they had enough volunteers already and got an immediate response with several shifts I could sign up for. They were delighted to have a midwife on staff. I secretly hope I get to deliver a baby. Maybe a baby horse? Or goat? This fair has a building called, “The Miracle of Birth” and it is packed in the beginning of the week with dozens of pregnant pigs, goats, cows, chickens and rabbits. The have monitors above each pen so you can watch everything that is going on. They have barriers set up so people aren’t right on top of the animals and they have some semblance of privacy. I imagine the main complaints at the fair will be heat stroke or blisters but I don’t know. I wonder if you can Google and find out what medical events took place last year at the State Fair. Actually yes you can and here is what I found:

Regions Hospital Emergency Medical Services will provide emergency medical care and nursing services at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair. Last year, Regions medical staff treated 2,933 people at the fair. Most had minor injuries, but 26 people were transported to metro hospitals, including Regions.

"Blisters, cuts, headaches, nausea and vomiting, and dehydration were the top five causes for visits to aid stations," said R.J. Frascone, M.D., medical director of Regions Hospital EMS. "Drinking plenty of fluids and wearing supportive shoes are the two best ways to prevent getting sick or injured at the fair."

Today I got another email from one of the organizers named Joshua. He needs my T-shirt size and address for my ‘uniform’ and to send my volunteer information packet. This is getting exciting. My father wrote a rather droll email yesterday saying that he hopes it is an uneventful week at our
fair and not like the Linden Fair near his home in Bellingham, Washington where they had a shooting spree one year. Thanks, Dad! I imagine perhaps a kid or two who gets sick eating too many fried Snickers-on-a-sick (my grandson Avi’s personal favorite) or alligator-on-a-stick. Yes, they really have that! And you can also find camel-on-a-stick and even kosher-pickle-on-a-stick! What I wonder about is how do they ever get an ambulance through the hordes of people if they need to? The streets at the fair are packed shoulder to shoulder! I will be interested to find out how they have managed all the logistics for an event like this one. The security alone must be a logistics nightmare. I cannot imagine.
The weather is supposed to cool off slightly by my first day, Friday. It will be in the 90s today. There are free buses all over the city that go to the Fair, so I will figure that out ahead of time.

The T-shirt came today along with my free passes to the Fair. This is getting exciting. I found out there is even a breastfeeding station at the fair for nursing mothers! Pretty cool. See: http://youcanbreastfeedhere.com/minnesota-state-fair/

This site explains:
Name of location: Minnesota State Fair
Address: 1265 Snelling Ave.
City: St. Paul
State/Province: MN
ZIP/Postal Code: 55108

One mom posted the following:
“There are nursing rooms at the Care and Assistance building which is by the Skyride and the pickle stand near the big midway. Just go to the information booth and ask! Awesome facilities and very comfortable.”

Another parent commented, “I was thrilled when I came across the “Lactation Station” this past summer. It was great to have a place to sit down and be sheltered from the sun (and rain as it were at that point in the day). It was also nice to have diapers and wipes provided for changing. I wish more booths at the fair had a Lactation Station. What a wonderful amenity/service for nursing mothers. THANK YOU THANK YOU!”

Mama Gena writes: “The Minnesota State Fair has a ‘Lactation Station’ tent at MyTalk FM107.1 which I found to be a wonderful oasis. It’s there every year. It’s spacious, with lots of rocking chairs, and two well stocked diaper changing stations. So that takes care of 12 days per year.”

I will have to check that out. The instruction sheet that came with my shirt says I will be ‘manning’ Children’s Hospital “Simply Safe” tent/booth along with other volunteer and instruct parents how to properly use car seats, correctly fit and size bike helmets and guidelines for ATVs and children. Not what I expected but still interesting.

§  To support breastfeeding moms and families by helping them feel more comfortable and confident when nursing in public.
§  To collect and share specific locations where moms breastfeed in public.
§  To educate moms and others about a woman’s legal right
to breastfeed in public.
§  To contribute to the normalization of breastfeeding in public.

From the website:
“You Can Breastfeed Here” was created by a mom.


"While out with my six-week old infant, I wished that another mom, store employee—anyone, really!—might see him begin to fuss, and offer, “Oh, you can breastfeed right here.”  I could then sit on whatever bench or chair was nearby, feed my child, and continue with my day.

"This imagined interaction never happened.  Instead, I would stop whatever I was doing, and return to my car to nurse my son, scrunched awkwardly between his car seat and the door.  Or, especially in those early days when he needed to eat almost every hour, I would simply not leave home.

"I searched the internet to see how other moms managed.  I found discussion threads about anxiety related to breastfeeding in public, lists of places women had breastfed in public (none local to me), and discussions and articles about the law’s protection of breastfeeding mothers and children. Some of these resources are excellent–and links to them are included on this site–but none of them encompassed all of what I was looking for.
"I created “You Can Breastfeed Here” to bring together these three things: information about a mother’s legal right to breastfeed in public; a searchable collection of where mothers were breastfeeding in public; and a place where moms could share their experiences of breastfeeding in public.
More than anything, I want this site to let moms know: You can breastfeed here.  We have, and so can you."

I am frequently asked, “Why didn’t you just pump, and bring a bottle?”  Well, pumping requires at least two things:  Extra milk, and extra time. I had neither.  My son was an ever-hungry, high-maintenance little guy in those first months. On those rare days that I found myself with fifteen minutes of free time to pump, I didn’t: I knew my son would need to nurse soon after, and, since my body wasn’t used to producing enough milk for both him, and an extra bottle, he would be very unhappy to find I’d “stolen” all his milk!



Stay Tuned for updates on this story!

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