One of the hardest things about trauma medicine is knowing where to begin. If you aren’t somebody who uses these skills on the regular, like an EMT or Paramedic, then you’re likely to be a little off your game. But that’s expected.
Emergencies are tense and scary and that can cause an unexperienced first responder to hesitate. But there are a few tricks that can help you make the right call when it matters most.
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.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to work as a security consultant for organizations looking to be proactive for active shooter incident (ASI) or mass casualty events. It was a great experience that I thoroughly enjoyed since I was able to use hard learned skills I acquired from the military.
One of my focuses when working with a new client, was asking them to show me what medical gear they had on hand to treat any injuries. Usually what I found was pretty dismal.
After a lot of rummaging around, they would drag out an old sun faded EMT bag with most of the important things missing, or bring out a small plastic kit half full of Band-Aids and Motrin packets.
Research is a vital component to medical care. Without medical researchers constantly developing new techniques and testing the effectiveness of old ones, we’d still be stuck with medieval era medicine.
Thankfully, the medical world is a constantly changing and shifting environment, which is why we no longer drill holes in our patient’s head to let out evil spirits and cure mental illness.
Progress is a good thing, and we need to continually question why we do what we do, and if there's a better way.
A good medic takes pride in being able to make do with less. Emergency medicine almost never happens in a place when you have every resource at your disposal.
Unless you’re shot in a hospital, odds are good you’ll be severely limited in the type of gear you need to save a life.
Bleeding control is of course the most time sensitive issue for any trauma. Bleeding must be stopped at the earliest opportunity or the casualty may not recover from serious wounds.
Fortunately, bad extremity bleeds are relatively simple to control with the right tools. Tourniquets (TQ) enjoy a good track record for saving lives because they are quick and easy to apply and anyone can learn how to do it effectively in a short time.
But if you don’t have the right tools for the job, survival rates start to drop significantly. Since tourniquets appear to be very simple devices, sometimes it’s assumed you can just quickly make one on the spot and save the day.
But since this is Real Life, things don’t always work like it seems they should.
Your first choice should NOT be to make an improvised Tourniquet.
Knowing how to use the equipment you have available is a key detail for saving lives. If you don’t understand how your gear works and what it’s doing when you deploy it, the effectiveness can be drastically reduced.
This is especially true for tourniquets. It’s not enough to simply buy lifesaving equipment, then never learn how to use it right. I have seen many occasions where a person had a quality TQ like the CAT but didn’t use it correctly.
There is a myth about tourniquets that it should be loosened every so often to allow some blood to flow back into the limb. This, supposedly, is so the limb is getting oxygenated blood to the limb and it will therefore not need to be amputated.
According to the CDC, over 1 million people a year are reported to have burns that require medical attention. These burns can come from a lot of different factors, from thermal burns like exposure to a heat source, or from chemicals.
With the rioting and looting going on in America today, the Molotov Cocktail is seeing a come back and understanding how to care for a burn patient might be important.
Let’ s first examine the 3 classifications of burns.
After leaving the military, I worked for a short time in an ammunition factory. Expensive loading machines have a tube full of shock sensitive primers and one day, a primer stack blew up while a coworker was clearing a malfunction, amputating his thumb.
Amputations are something I have some experience with. I’ve had to work on many different forms of traumatic amputations in different environments. From austere locals to clinical settings and I’ve learned a few things along the way that might help if you witness this common injury at your place of work.