“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Ear Popping and Hair Raising in the Operating Room

What do you do if you’re in the operating room, May 22 at 5:41, working on a patient at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Missouri, when an F4 tornado hits your town?

St. John's

A view of the devastated interior of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, MO. More pictures here.

This seems like a stupidly outrageous question. It probably wouldn’t even work as fiction, let alone reality. Except, it happened, an event that answers the outrageous question. Of all the incredible tornado stories to come out of the month-long super tornadoes outbreak, this story stands out, even in the large field of stories of heroism and amazing survival.

As a resident of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which suffered an almost identical day a month ago, April 27, this story is hair-raising and made more so by the fact this all happened to a close friend’s son.

Dr. Dusty Smith, son of Dr. Jay Smith, a dermatologist in Montgomery, Alabama, is an orthopedic surgeon in Joplin. That infamous day, Dusty was performing emergency surgery when St. John’s took a direct hit moments after a staff member said, “My ears are popping.”

Here’s the rest of the story.

This amazing story has lots of facets, some obvious, some less so. But it reminds me the heroic effort that airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made in landing his disabled U.S. Airways airliner into the Hudson River in New York, saving every one of the crew and passengers. A modest man, he credits his experience and training in keeping his cool under such pressure.

Dusty has a few words about the value of good training.

If I could tell the residents of Joplin one thing, it would be that driving through all the devastation even a month later is very hard, very anxiety-ridden, even depressing. I think it will be like this for a long, long time


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