Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sometimes it is the simple solution that is the best.

I was being used as a traveling medic. I would fill in on what ever engine or rescue that needed a firefighter or paramedic. I was sent an engine near our local trauma center. It was a single engine company station near downtown. It was a busy station but that shift it had been quite most of the day. We had nothing to speak until one in the morning. The call was at the Trauma Center. It was for a person with their hand trapped in a dishwasher. I pictured a mangled hand in the mechanism of the dishwasher. We would have to dissemble the dishwasher to free his hand. Why else would the Trauma Center call the fire department. 

We arrived and were escorted into the bowels of the facility. We found a mentally challenged man with his hand crushed between a cafeteria tray and the edge of the large automatic dishwasher. His fingers were crushed completely flat. He was in tremendous pain. A number of medical and facility maintenance personnel stood by trying to reassure the poor man. The Lieutenant assessed the situation and immediately got on the radio.

“Engine 5 to Orlando. Respond Tower 1 with the wizzer tool.”

The wizzer tool was a small high-speed drill that could cut through metal or plastic with ease. It would be perfect to cut the tray away from the man's hand. The Tower was the nearest truck to carry the tool. I don’t remember any conscious decision making process as I stood there. I just remember reaching for the cafeteria tray with both hands. I grabbed it and leaned back with all my body weight. The cafeteria tray bent and the man immediately removed his hand. Everyone stood there and stared at me for several moments, as if to say why didn't I think of that. A couple of RN's put the man in a waiting wheel chair and took him immediately to the ER.

The Lieutenant just looked at me, then canceled the Tower. We went back to the station and slept the rest of the night. Sometimes the simple solution is the best, don't get caught up in the equipment. 

I  was still traveling when they sent me to a station near the airport. It sat just off one of the busiest highways in the city. Late that night we were dispatched to an accident with injuries involving a motorcycle. It was not a good scenario, heavy fast moving traffic and a motorcycle it is never a good mix. There was a good chance this was going to be something. 

We arrived on the scene to find a motorcycle on its side in the middle of the six-lane highway. A van was stopped behind it. The rider was nowhere in sight. Then bystanders pointed under the car. I lay down on my stomach. The rider was rolled up under the car. Bystanders told us that he had been weaving in and out of traffic and caught the side mirror of the van and lost control. He had fallen off his motorcycle and was rolled under the car.

I could see him clearly under the car. He was lying on his back completely under the car.  He was in perfect anatomical position with his helmet almost out from under the car. I could not tell if he was coded. I could not reach anything to check. We had to get him out from under the car fast. The Lieutenant immediately got on the radio.

“Engine 8 to Orlando. Request Rescue 1 for air bags.”

The air bags are large rubberize bags that are inflated with air. They can lift thousands of pounds easily and quickly. But it would take at least fifteen to twenty minutes for Rescue 1 to respond from downtown. I did not think this patient had fifteen minutes while we waited for the air bags. We needed to get him out now. As I lay on my stomach I realized nothing was trapping him under the car. It was as if he had just laid down under it to check out the underside of the car. That is when I said.

"Lieutenant we can get him out if we just lift the car."

He looked down at me for a second and said.

"Do it."

“All of you guys grab the front of the car and lift when I tell you.”

The some of the crew and several bystanders grabbed the front of the van.  I said.


Together they lifted the van  up enough for me to control the patient cervical spine while two other crew members carefully slid him out from under the car. He was clear. We immediately began to work on him.  The Lieutenant just looked at me then said.

“Cancel the Rescue. The patient has been freed.”

Sometimes the best solutions are simple ones. 

1 comment:

Lodo Grdzak said...

Good work--all the way around.