Wednesday, August 30, 2006

BREAKABLE NEWS -- Pioneer Press Reporter injured reporting air quality in St. Paul bars

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:59 PM |  

Bites own tongue during convulsive fit

A St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter had to be restrained by paramedics when he went into a sudden convulsive fit during a telephone interview with St. Paul city councilman David Thune. Veteran science report Winston Schusler was assigned to cover testing that showed a dramatic improvement of air quality inside St. Paul bars since the smoking ban took effect March 31 at the time of the incident.

Paramedics, responding to a 911 alert, raced into the Pioneer Press newsroom late yesterday afternoon where Schusler was convulsing over his computer keyboard.

“The quantity of blood indicated he’d severely bitten his tongue,” said Paramedic Roxanne Kneebacher. “He was in an abbreviated fetal position gripping his stomach.”

After sedating and restraining Schusler, paramedics rushed the journalist to Regions Hospital where, after about three hours in a decompression chamber, he was admitted to the hospital for overnight observation.

“He nearly died laughing,” said Dr. Rudolph DeGras, a gastro-intestinal specialist at Regions.

In a bedside interview later that evening, a still painfully amused Schusler recounted his near-death experience saying the convulsion was brought about by fear of losing his objectivity, and consequently his “Licensed Journalist” credentials.

“I though I could handle the story,” Schusler said. “Come on, is it really news that when people stop smoking in bars, there’s less smoke in the air? I thought I could have a little fun with the story, make some wise cracks the physical stress of throwing darts in a smoky room, but then I started interviewing people. These morons take themselves so seriously – I just lost it.” He grimaced as he held in a chortle.

“After listening to all the BS about no safe levels of secondhand smoke (according to the surgeon general) and quoting of micrograms per cubic meter, then Dave Thune starts talking about bars smelling better.” Schusler doubled over and a nurse cleared his room of reporters.

Schusler is expected to return to work later in the week, about the time the Minnesota Department of Health is scheduled to issue a report saying that people who stop drinking spirits, wine and beer can lower their blood alcohol level to “virtually zero.”