I don’t know how other branches instill passion in their medics, but in the US Navy it’s done by telling the legends of our craft. The heroes who’ve gone before us to set the example and show us what being a combat medic means.
One of these who inspired me early in my career was the story of Pharmacist’s Mate 1st Class Wheeler Lipes, who, while at sea and underwater in enemy territory, preformed an illegal surgery that saved the life of his shipmate.
The quick and timely application of a tourniquet has saved many lives and all good medics ensure their gear is ready to go. Cutting down on steps and thinking ahead helps a bad situation go a little more smoothly. And every little bit counts.
Maybe you learned this lesson the hard way, or maybe you prefer to just listen to those of us who did.
Either way, setting up your TQ is a great idea and here are some things that will make your life easier:
There isn’t a lot a medic can do for head trauma to make the situation better for the casualty.
There are still things to be done, such as preventing further harm to the casualty and managing the airway but knowing what massive brain damage looks like can help you make the right decisions.
One of those decisions is whether or not to spend time helping the casualty at all. A good medic realizes some injuries are too severe to recover from, and while the casualty is still alive and breathing, the medic’s time is better spent on casualties who have a better chance for survival.
This is called “Triage.”
It may seem cold and heartless, but these are the realities that must sometimes be realized in trauma medicine. Doing the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people means someone might get left in the lurch.
Taking care of someone who is unconscious can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. Trauma to the head, or even a massive loss of blood can cause your casualty to lose consciousness.
When unconscious, the casualty loses their ability to protect their airway and their tongue may fall to the back of their throat and close (occlude) the airway.
If not managed properly, this can cause your casualty to expire, or at the very least, cause complications. Since this isn’t our goal, we need to have a plan for helping the casualty keep their airway clear.
I’ve never thought more about tourniquets then I have in this job. Bleeding control being such an important topic of discussion means devoting a good amount of time to all the various ways people have developed to save lives.
It takes some time to run through all the various options out there, and this week we’re looking at the Gen 4 Recon Medical Tourniquet.
But first, before we get into all the little details, we have to address something important.
We can’t be prepared all the time. Even if you’re the kind of person who has every pocket full of life saving materials, you still need to shower at some point and when that day comes you may very well find yourself having to save a life without any gear at all.
Tourniquets are normally your best bet for controlling severe bleeding from an arm or a leg, but that leaves a large portion of the human body where a TQ won’t work.