Reading "The Hunger Games" taught 12-year-old Megan Gething exactly what to do when her friend slipped and sliced her leg open, leaving a 10-inch long, 3-inch wide gash, gushing with blood.
Mackenzie George was playing in a marsh in Gloucester with her friends when she slipped in the mud next to a metal cofferdam — a welded steel pump — that cut her calf open on Saturday morning, June 3.
"I didn’t feel anything. I thought I just bumped my leg, but when I pulled it up I saw the cut and I started screaming to call 911," Mackenzie said.
While many of the sixth-graders screamed in horror, Megan responded like a trained EMT and created a tourniquet. "I knew it from a book I read," she said, referencing "The Hunger Games." "I figured it was a well-known method of stopping bleeding."
Using a pair of her friend's shorts, Megan held the clothing tightly around Mackenzie's leg to reduce blood loss and instructed another friend, Zoe Tallgrass, to run for help. "Going through my mind was just helping 'Kenzie," she said.
Zoe returned in about three minutes, according to Megan, with her father, Matthew, and brother Jack, who carried Mackenzie from the marsh to the backyard of the Tallgrass' Essex Avenue home. It was there the EMTs loaded Mackenzie into an ambulance around 10:30 a.m., then took her to Addison Gilbert Hospital.
Rockport middle schoolers Mackenzie, Megan, Zoe, Alyssa Strople, Morgan Reilly, Remi Blazzard, Sarah Wodgson and Iris “Pip” Monahan had just spent that Friday night at the Tallgrass house to celebrate her birthday. The eight girls decided to play in the marsh before their parents picked them up on Saturday morning.
Mackenzie and another girl had left their shoes on the upper marshland before descending into the mud bank.
"She asked me to go get them (shoes) because I was crawling and jumping in and out of the bank. I tried to get them and slid on the muddy part, and embedded on the side was a piece of metal and I split my leg open," Mackenzie said.
Emergency room doctors were concerned about a possible infection due to the various bacteria in the marsh, so they had her transferred to Boston Children's Hospital to see a surgeon, who immediately scheduled Mackenzie for surgery.
"He wanted to explore the wound — see how deep it was and if there was muscle damage or nerve damage," explained Rockport police Officer Gregory George, Mackenzie's father.
Nearly 12 hours after the accident, Mackenzie went into surgery, around 10 p.m. Her father said that luckily, there was no muscle damage or nerve damage, so doctors expect a complete recovery in a month.
Gregory George and his wife, Terry, were in awe of Megan Gething's heroic actions.
"Megan was the star of the show. Thank goodness she was there. Mackenzie would have lost a lot more blood, and it could have been life-threatening if she hadn’t done what she did," he said.
"We want to celebrate what she did and what an amazing kid she is. And how incredible it is, without any formal training, to be able to stay calm in such a stressful situation. It's just amazing. We thank God that she was there to help out, and we're very appreciative that she did."
Mary Markos may be contacted at 978-675-2708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.