On Friday, March 11, Dad was burning branches and stumps that had collected over the winter. Jake Goertzen and Dad started the fire about 9am. A little after 2pm Dad saw a stump that was lying close to the fire but not burning. He bent over to stand it on end and push it into the fire. As he stood up he tripped on something and fell forward into the burning branches. He landed on his right side but quickly got himself into a sitting position. He says he wasn't in there more than a few seconds but will never forget the feeling when he realized he would have to put his hands in about ten inches of burning coals to push himself out of the fire. Thinking his overalls were on fire due to the intense burning underneath him, he scooted across the grass to put out the flames. He knew he needed to get his clothes off but struggled a short while with his shoes. He said the skin on his right hand and arm was hanging of in big patches. (His left hand, the one with the "mitt", had a glove on it so he only has blisters there). After removing his clothes he headed into the house and dialed the only number he could think of, Goertzen Homes across the street, and told them he was burned badly. They called 911 and then all ran over to help out. EMS instructed them to get Dad in a cold shower which Willard did. We will forever be in the debt of Will and Jenny and Terry and their crew for all they did that day. Dad says Will is the best doctor in Inman! After EMS arrived they felt a helicopter ride to Wichita was the best bet. Initially they were saying he had 2nd degree burns over 70% of his body. They then downgraded that to 40%. Throughout this all, Mom could not be found. She was shopping in Hutch and her cell phone was dead. Ben Ensz and Kent Wiebe were dispatched to find her after calls to her favorite stores produced no results. They finally found her in Kohls and waited with her till Gregg and Robin came and took her to Via Christi St. Francis to catch up with Dad. When Mom arrived Dad was already in the burn unit being assessed and treated for pain. After he was cleaned up and his skin could be assessed they found that only 12% of his skin was affected with a mix of 2nd and 3rd degree burns. We feel very fortunate as it could have been a lot worse. Most of the burns are on Dad's right side, especially his arm, hand, thigh, knee and lower leg. His "sitter" is one large burn. Thankfully his face was spared. Dad claims his guardian angels were doing a good job again, but I told him I think they have given up. Either that or they all have quit and "newbies" are on the job who are still in training. But if you know Norman at all you know he will always put the most optimistic spin on anything!
Becky and I will try to keep this updated as we go along... Thanks for checking in and thanks for your thoughts and prayers. They mean a lot to us!