Hi I am Misty Wilcken RN CSPI-2. I completed my Bachelor of chemistry in 2001. My first job out of college was as a synthetic organic chemist. I worked for UTMB in the Synthetic Chemistry Core Laboratory for 5 years prior to changing my career. I completed UTMB BAC2 accelerated nursing school and received a second Bachelor degree in Nursing. I started my nursing career working for Shriners Burn pediatric ICU.
Due to hurricane Ike, I was forced to find another position. I had hoped to find something challenging that involved the community and children, and I found just that when I was hired on as a Specialist in Poison Information in 2009. My background has allowed me to excel in this field. I love calming panicked moms, and advising other health care professionals with regards to things like envenimations, ingestions, drug overdoses, and chemical exposures. I also love learning something new every day in the broad fields of pharmacology and toxicology.
2. I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary, but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call.
Some of the scariest stories are people putting chemicals or drugs in food containers or in beverage bottles. Kids drinking lighter fluid thinking it is water or tiki torch fuel thinking it is apple juice. I also had a lady call about her husband eating hair relaxer. She had put in a sour cream container, and had left it in the fridge, and he put it on his baked potato.
I also remember a case where a dad had picked up his brothers impounded car and cleaned it out. He put what he thought was just Gatorade in his fridge and the kids drank it. The kids ended up in the ER intoxicated off ecstasy. They had to get a hold of the brother in jail to find out what was in the Gatorade. People bring stuff home from work like cleaners, and pesticides in water bottles and someone drinks it. It is very common for people to put bleach in a cup to clean it and then turn around and drink it on accident.
3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?
We are an important resource for the public and for health care professionals. We save a lot of money in unnecessary ER visits and are a reliable source of information. We are available 24 hours to answer questions and give advice. We put a lot of people's minds at ease. They look stuff up online and panic, and then call us to get a professional opinion.