LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Monte Waller describes his accident last year in July, "I thought I could light it and throw it. Blew my hand up. Blew both my eardrums up. I have burns all over my body."
Jose Ramirez was also rushed to the trauma center at UMC at about the same time. He says, "I don't know if there was something with the firework or the fuse was too fast. "
In seconds one night during the Fourth of July festivities last year, Jose was left with just a pinkie and a thumb. He now wears a prosthetic hand after his hand was nearly blown off while lighting fireworks for his son last Fourth of July.
Few realize that while most people were looking up in awe as the Fourth was celebrated last year, surgeons in the emergency room at UMC were awestruck over the costly mistakes that come from fireworks accidents.
Dr. Desirae McKee, a hand surgeon and Texas Tech Physician, says last year, the list was long:
"We had lost fingers, lost thumbs. We had people lose most of their hand. We had people blow out their ear drums. We had people burn their legs, their chest, their face. My partner and I, we worked about 23 hours in a row on our own patients separately trying to accommodate all these injuries."
Dr. McKee says the most common thing she hears after a fireworks accident is, "I thought it was a dud."
But she says there are two other mistakes people make.
RELATED LINK: American Society for Surgery to the Hand
The first, mixing fireworks with alcohol.
The second, allowing kids to handle fireworks. She says that's a big mistake because kids can and do get hurt using fireworks, even when they're supervised.
She says, "Fireworks burn at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To me, that's literally like a mini bomb. 1,300 burns each year are just from sparklers."
Monte and Jose are among patients who have become advocates for fireworks safety, allowing Texas Tech to show their pictures and tell their stories in a new public service announcement.
It took a year to put the PSA together.
The bottom line is simple: fireworks injuries are 100 percent preventable.
We have included the Texas Tech fireworks PSA at the end of this interview with Dr. McKee.
The PSA concludes with some pictures of fireworks injuries that came to the Emergency Room in Lubbock last year. Be forewarned that these pictures are extremely graphic.
Photos and video provided by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center