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Over Cautious? Maybe… Maybe not

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Over Cautious? Maybe… Maybe not

(Photo: Source)

Many times when we go on accidents and rescue calls, we can become a little complacent. Especially if we have had a busy day. I was asked, recently, about a car accident that we had responded on. It was just down the street from the station and in a less than desirable neighborhood. It seems the car had been going a “little too fast” for a gradual turn and had gone into an apartment complex. It ended up against the building. Well……… to be a little more accurate, on its rear bumper standing against the building. The two occupants had opened the doors and jumped down to the ground. Fearing the worst, they had taken off running to get away from the scene. After about one hundred (100) feet, the driver fell face down to the ground and laid there. The passenger left the scene never to be found.

On our arrival, we checked vitals and found them alright. When we asked where he hurt, he said his neck and his lower back. Witnesses had told us about the accident and how he had taken off running, so the first impression was, “Ok, if he was running he can not be hurt that badly. Well, training and caution kicked in and we decided to take full “c” spine precautions, so we “packaged him up. Backboard, stiff neck and the works. We moved him onto the backboard, as a unit, with all three of us log rolling him. Once he was on his back, we adjusted the “c” collar, or stiff neck, so he could breath yet stay secure. We put the head restraints around him and taped him down. The new stuff attaches easier, but you have to remember, this was “back in the day.” After we had totally secured him, IV’s started and everything, he was taken to the ambulance and transported to the local trauma center.

After getting back to the station, we critiqued the call and decided that we had done everything we should have.

Later that evening, my captain’s office phone rang and it was dispatch patching through the trauma doctor. The doctor asked if we were the crew that had sent in the accident victim on the backboard, and I confirmed that we were. About this time, a million things were going through my mind, not the least of which was that he was calling to complain about over doing the call. The doctor went on to say that initially he had been skeptical about the “packaging” after hearing that the patient had run from the car. But like us, training and caution had kicked in and he had decide to do a CAT scan. Well, as it turned out, there were fractures to the spine at the base of the skull and the lower back. In fact, there were several severe fractures. The doctor said that if we had moved him, any one of the fractures could have severed the spinal cord causing paralysis or perhaps even death. He complimented us on the good care and training, said that it had taught him a lesson too, and to keep up the good work. Needless to say, we were all grateful, we had stopped and used training and common sense instead of snap judgment.

I am sure that your departments spend a lot of time teaching and training you in caring for accident victims. You may grumble and complain, but I promise you that just one incident and phone call like this, and all of it is very worthwhile.

Take care, study and train hard, and remember it is usually always better to error on the side of safety and caution.

Captain Jep

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