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Passenger Care

William Alfred Triggs

My experience in the Army Medical Corps made me a competent first aid practitioner, but midwifery was a bit out of my line. My first opportunity to practice this ancient calling occurred when the Kuskanook was running late one Christmas Eve. At Riondel a stretcher case was wheeled on the main deck with the usual complement of freight and baggage. On learning from the lady attendant that the case involved a Riondel resident already far advanced in labour, I had a couple of deckhands take her up to a stateroom while I pondered what to do next. Suddenly I recalled that a young intern, Dr. Cockle, en route home to Kaslo for the Christmas vacation, was on the passenger list. I quickly found him and ordered up the usual linen and boiling water, and he delivered the baby before we pulled in to Kaslo.

My second close brush with midwifery, the SS Nasookin, working down the West Arm one evening, was flagged urgently to call in at Kitto's Landing, not a listed stop for the Crow Boat. On this occasion time was on my side, so that the patient and her worried husband could be whisked in a taxi from wharf side in Nelson to the orthodox surroundings of the maternity ward of the Kootenay Lake General Hospital before the baby arrived.

Another time on the Nasookin my first aid expertise was put to the supreme test. En route to Kootenay Landing, we were idling at the Balfour wharf, waiting for the Kuskanook to clear the channel and tie up at the nearby Procter wharf, when a fireman rushed into my office seeking bandages for the second engineer who he reported as having lost his hand. I picked up the bandages and a sling in the steward's office, and hurried below to the engine room. There I saw the engineer, Teddy Lodge, sitting on a bench gazing at the stump of his arm. While we were idling, Lodge has reached through the eccentric rods to oil a bearing, but he had not reckoned with eh effect of the current in the river. Unfortunately the current had caught a bucket in the sternwheel, giving the wheel a flip sufficient to cause the eccentric rods to nip off Lodge's right hand at the wrist just like a giant pair of scissors. Lodge had not lost much blood by the time I arrived, so I was able to put on a tourniquet and bandages and fit him with an arm sling. We then transferred Lodge to the Kuskanook, which set off downstream for Nelson under full steam. The doctor who attended Lodge on arrival at Nelson gave me full marks for my efforts, but I regretted having to shine under such an unfortunate circumstance.


Audio Clip Description: Audio recreation of William Alfred Triggs reminiscing about the tests put to his first aid skills.

William Alfred Triggs, Purser on the SS Kuskanook

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Audio Clip Description: Audio recreation of William Alfred Triggs reminiscing about the tests put to his first aid skills.

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