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.
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.
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.
You might’ve gotten into trouble for it in school, but daydreaming can be great for your survival.
I learned this the hard way as a method of keeping myself present in the rocky hills of Afghanistan. While on patrol with my fireteam, it was easy for my mind to wander back to what must be happening in the normal world instead of focused on the dangers around me.
A few weeks ago, I made a video on the Mountain Man Medical YouTube channel about an Officer who was stabbed in the neck while attempting to apprehend a suspect.
After the altercation is complete, the body cam footage ends with the officer walking away to pack gauze into his own neck wound.
If you’ve been reading this blog in the past few weeks, you’ll already know why junctional wounds are uniquely dangerous, and why bleeding control is so difficult.
If you haven’t read these articles, I highly recommend that you do so you’ll better understand what I’m talking about here. They’re short reads, and I try to make them entertaining and educational.
After completing the video review of the injured Officer, I kept thinking about how important it is that everyone know how to pack a junctional wound. As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few posts, tourniquets, while important and effective, don’t fix everything.
I hear all the time from instructors about how important it is everyone to learns to self-apply a TQ to save your own life, but never anything about a technique for packing your own junctional wounds and/or improvising effective pressure dressings.
This is an unusual and potentially deadly blind spot in the normal training of medical skills for personal preparedness and protection.
I worry for the person who carries around a trauma kit for their own personal safety, confident they can control bleeding with their TQ, only to bleed out from a junction wound because they don’t know what to do.
Learning how to control your own junctional bleed is equally important as learning how to self-apply a tourniquet.
I started thinking of a way where an injured person suffering from a knife wound to the neck, might go about controlling bleeding until help arrives.
How to Improvise a Pressure Dressing with a Flannel Shirt
This method, like all improvised equipment, has its flaws. Improvised medical gear will never be better than commercially produced gear, and whenever possible I recommend you maintain your own supplies of pressure dressings like the Israeli Style or OLAES, so you don’t have to do any of this.
But the reality of emergencies is that they can occur when you are least prepared and knowing how to fix this problem might be handy when you need it most.
Here is a demonstration so you understand what I’m talking about here, but come back after you watch it and I’ll add some tips that might make the process easier.
This technique won’t work well if your shirt doesn’t have long enough sleeves. I wear a lot flannel (yeah, yeah, make your jokes) so this isn’t really an issue for me, since I’m usually wearing a long sleeve shirt. But if you don’t, this won’t be quite as simple.
That said, learning this technique means the material doesn’t have to be a shirt. Look around for something suitable to replace the shirt and you’re still accomplishing the goal. This is your shining opportunity to think outside the box.
You must practice. Self-application of a tourniquet must be practiced, and so must pressure dressings. Play around with it until you can do it without stumbling. It will probably take a few tries so don’t give up.
And if you happen to figure out a better way to do it, please don’t hesitate to share with the rest of the community so we can all benefit!
Yes, the shirt must be flannel. Flannel shirts are naturally imbued with the powers of Mountain Men, which is why it works so well as an improvised pressure dressing…
If you’ve seen an action movie, you know well how vehicles explode at the very slightest provocation. In reality, car manufacturers try very hard to come up with designs to ensure this doesn’t happen. It’s bad business to produce vehicles the blow up.
I’m sure its possible, given the right conditions, but you shouldn’t be attempting to drag a casualty from a car because you’re worried its gonna blow.
I am frequently told stories about coming up on the scene of a car accident.
These stories are almost always told in a way that describes a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty.
Most people go about their day completely unaware that on their way home from work, they’ll come across a bad car crash, and when they are presented with the unexpected, they realize how unprepared they are to handle it.
This adds to the stress of the situation greatly because they’re don’t know what to do. In this article we’ll explore a few topics so you’re better prepared to help someone who needs it.