Child among fireworks injury victims in GR, officials urge caution

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Fire Department is urging caution after two firework-related injuries were reported over the Fourth of July weekend, including a young teen who had a firework go off in his hand.

“A young teen who unfortunately had a firework go off in his hand and it’s a devastating injury,” GRFD Lt. Bill Smith said.

Smith said the other firework-related injury that weekend involved an adult male who was hit with a mortar firework, resulting in major facial trauma.

So far this year, GRFD has recorded 17 firework-related incidents, a number they fear will only grow throughout the summer months.

“We know we’re going to have more incidents that we’re going to be responding to, firework injuries,” Smith said. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance that our firefighters will respond to and help you, but really, wouldn’t it be better if you used them in a safe manner so that you don’t have to call 911?”

Although the city of Grand Rapids only allows the use of fireworks during set times around the holidays, fire officials will continue to spread awareness about the importance of safety when using fireworks, especially when children are around.

Dr. Emily Durkin, the medical director of children’s surgery at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, has seen it all.

“Small little scald burns on the hands from the sparkler … all the way up to significant blast injuries similar to a small-explosive device where you have significant tissue loss, including amputation of the hands or fingers,” Durkin said.

She says the parents of her patients suffer as well, describing what it’s like when speaking with them once their child is out of surgery.

“A sense of shock or disbelief that … fun activities could’ve turned into something like this,” she said. “Parents often times have a sense of guilt … wishing that they hadn’t let a child play with or light fireworks.”

The recovery time for firework-related injuries can take anywhere from weeks to months. For others, like the young Grand Rapids teen injured over the holiday weekend, the injuries can be lifelong.

“This is a life-changing type of injury and it’s a very unfortunate circumstance that he’s going to have to live with the rest of his life,” Smith said.

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