17 Minutes of Life or Death for Hudson Resident Doug Duchesne

August 14, 2015


by Doug Robinson

The stitches were taken out of Doug’s neck this week.  The stitches sewed back together a large hole from where Doug impaled himself, in the neck, with a lawn ornament.

The day was a sunny July 25, and 88 people were coming to Doug’s house for his annual party.  Pool, lawn activities, cookout, and good fun were anticipated by all.

But the party never happened.

By the time the party would have started, Doug had been airlifted from Southern New Hampshire Medical Center for his one-way ticket to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Like any good host, Doug had been “cleaning up the yard, throwing away brush, and just getting ready.”

Then, he took three to four steps backwards that would forever change his life.

“As I was walking backwards, I tripped over our lawn ornament.  I guess I kicked it hard enough to topple over the short wall and it land on its head with the spikes sticking up.  What happened next was that as I turned to gain my balance, I too fell over the edge of the wall, and landed neck first onto one of the legs (that was facing up) which secured the lawn ornament into the ground.  I felt the spike go into my throat.”

Doug remembers pulling the spike out of his neck as he attempted to stand.  At the same time, he called for his friend to help him with his emergency.  However, all that came out of his voice was air, as he had lacerated his esophagus when the spike entered his throat.

“When I got to the scene, I knew we had to move fast,” commented Hudson Firefighter/Paramedic Greg Rich.  “As soon as I saw the wound, I alerted Southern New Hampshire Medical Center to activate their trauma team.  He was having difficulty breathing, and we could see that the wound to his neck was life threatening.  How he did not cut his carotid artery on either side of his neck, I will never know.  Nor will I know how he did not sever his spinal cord during his accident.”

“The SNHMC (Southern NH Medical Center) emergency department is a level 3 designated trauma center and is affiliated with Mass General Hospital” writes SNHMC.  This affiliation gives patients access to a 24/7 dedicated trauma team that is led by a Mass General Hospital trauma surgeon, an on-site anesthesiologist, radiologist, trained trauma nurse and other uniquely dedicated experts.”

The hospital continues to state, “The trauma team can be activated in 30 minutes to respond, stabilize, assess and treat patients.  This ensures that any spinal injuries, penetrating injuries, or serious falls are taken care of immediately by a distinguished MGH trauma surgeon.  If needed, patients can be airlifted to Mass General Hospital within ten minutes for further treatment.”

Hudson Firefighters from the time of “tone” to respond to Doug Duchesne’s emergency to the time he arrived at the Nashua hospital was 17 minutes.  Once stabilized by the trauma team, he was then airlifted to Mass General Hospital in Boston where a second trauma team rushed him immediately into surgery to repair his throat.

Two weeks later, he could again speak.  Stitches out, a little raspy, but he could speak.

“In my work, I get a second chance,” commented Doug Duchesne.  “If I mess up a plumbing job, I can go back and fix my mistake.  You guys do not have that opportunity.  You have to get it right the first time.  And you did that with me.  You are all heroes.  You are all unbelievable and I will forever be thankful.  Every second counted with me.  You did not think; you just did.  Thank you for my life.”