Roco Rescue



A stingray, my teenager and special care from the Fort Morgan VFD

Thursday, June 09, 2011

So many communities and sleepy villages across America rely on their local volunteer fire departments for first responding. It is a critical service that saves lives, and a lot of pain in the world. In my case, the Fort Morgan (AL) VFD showed great compassion, expertise, and confidence in responding to our small incident with the calm and collected demeanor you see in so many veteran responders. As a citizen, you can detect the honor and dedication they have in just a brief encounter like this one.

While we don’t get many vacation days with teenage boys at home, we were lucky to sneak off to Fort Morgan, AL for a couple of days last month. Fifteen minutes after we settled under the shade of our umbrella, my 17-year-old son made a B-line out of the water, screaming and holding a foot that was spewing blood… volumes.

Realizing this was no ordinary jelly-fish incident, I dialed 911 and described the symptoms… BIG PAIN. Like most experienced Moms, after the cut was under control, I went straight for the ice bag. On application our victim began full body trembling, sweating, and more moaning. (This is the guy who didn’t cry when he ripped his bicep on a fence post and required thirty stitches!)

Within 4 minutes of calling 911, the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department (FMVFD) arrived at our condo. Five experienced gentlemen stepped into the room, asked a few key questions, and started giving orders. Calm as a cucumber they instructed, “Mom, go get a hot towel, hot as you can get it.” I obeyed and handed it to the fireman. He gently wrapped the wounded foot in the warm towel and within seconds you could see the relief on the face of our patient. This pretty much confirmed the diagnosis… stingray venom.

Most stingray-related injuries to humans occur to the ankles and lower legs, when someone accidentally steps on a ray buried in the sand and the frightened fish flips up its dangerous tail.

A stingray’s venom is not necessarily fatal, but it hurts a lot. It’s composed of the enzymes 5-nucleotidase and phosphodiesterase and the neurotransmitter serotonin.Serotonin causes smooth muscle to severely contract, and it is this component that makes the venom so painful. The enzymes cause tissue and cell death. Heat breaks down stingray venom and limits the amount of damage it can do. It’s the best treatment for beach boys who run into the stingray, and the FMVFD knows this.

I took a moment to “google” the guys at FMVFD to get their names for this article. But like so many in the rescue field, the individual names are not promoted. It was a pleasure to see that U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner announced the award of funding to the Fort Morgan Volunteer Department from the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Fire Administration (USFA). The grant, totaling $134,955, is being made available through the USFA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program and will be used for the purchase of a firefighting vehicle.

It’s a joy to know that there is FEMA money available to keep these essential programs intact, and help them make improvements. From the small stings to larger threats, volunteer departments deserve our respect and support. Donations are always a great way to say a special thanks!

The “Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program” provides one-year grant funding to local fire departments to assist them in improving their ability to respond to fire-related and other emergencies in their communities. The funding cane be used to purchase firefighting equipment, enhance emergency medical services programs, fund firefighter health and safety programs, and conduct fire education and prevention programs.

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