Kansas nurse describes most severe injuries from July 4 fireworks

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Every year there are warnings about fireworks, and every year, there are fireworks injuries that medical professionals say should have been avoided.The medical staff at the University of Kansas Hospital says the 4th of July falling on a weekend may have contributed to the severity of this year's injuries. FOX 4's Shannon O'Grien spoke with the nurse at KU Hospital in charge of taking care of those patients.

She was told the number of injuries reported at KU Hospital was down from 31 last year to 21 injuries in 2015. However, the injuries were much more severe.

"We have seen three patients with traumatic finger amputations and a significant burn, the largest we have seen this year is up to 25 percent," said Jennifer Parks, the nurse who works with trauma and burn patients.

She says the majority of the injuries are caused by mortars and seemingly innocent sparklers. In 2014, the worst burn was just four percent of the patient's body.

"No matter how much people think they are being safe or they are giving their children safe type of fireworks or you are standing back far enough, fireworks are so unpredictable, you just never know what is going to happen," said Parks.

Jacob Schell and his 4-year-old son are among the more serious cases of fireworks injuries. A Kansas State Highway Patrol trooper says the Schells were on their way home from a family outing Sunday, when artillery shells in the car somehow exploded. Karen Pagel saw it happen on the Oakland Expressway near Topeka and called 9-1-1

"I could hear crackling noises so I thought the car was going to catch on fire but it didn't," said Karen Pagel, crash witness.

"You hear, 'I have done this a thousand times, I did it all growing up as a kid.' It just takes that one time for something devastating to happen and these are life changing injuries that not only do they have to go through multiple weeks of healing but there are psychological aspects that stay with these patients for a really long period of time," Parks said.

Staff at KU Hospital say 21 injuries may not be the end of it. They know more people will be shooting off fireworks left over from Independence Day, and as fireworks stand reduce prices on their remaining inventory, more people will be shooting off additional fireworks.

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