Monday, June 4, 2018

Hurray for Poison Control!

Gardening has this added benefit: it gives me time to listen to podcasts.

Today I learned from RadioLab about the history of the Poison Control hotline. It was started by a Chicago pharmacist named Edward Press in the 1950s. He worked across the hall from a hospital emergency room, and was frequently called upon to advise when people came in after ingesting one of the burgeoning number of household cleaners. (Mr. Clean! Drano! The possibilities are almost endless.)

Press started keeping note cards on each product (ingredients, effects, and so on), which later became a database that is used to this day. He took calls himself 24 hours a day (his widow is interviewed on the show). Finally, his work turned into a system of experts who answer calls all over the country. It's a good example of the nearly invisible goodness we have at our disposal in this country, and which no one appreciates until they have to.

The number of phone calls to Poison Control is now decreasing, which the show attributes to Dr. Google, of course. I don't know about you, but if I was afraid I or someone I loved had ingested poison, I'd rather call someone who knows what they're talking about than look up possibly dubious info online, and I can even type fast.

I hope that Poison Control isn't one of the many things the interweb disrupts into nonexistence.

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