Question From a Reader, Part Four (Continued)

In a previous
post, our querulous reader asked, "Have you ever answered a call and found someone had begun first-aid that was helpful (or not)?" I put out the request to my other readers for their stories but have received none. Alas. I suppose an anecdote or two of mine would be appropriate.

I ran a call for a personal injury at a local bar. It seemed that the bass player of the band had stepped on broken class from a stage light and it went right through her sandal and into her foot. From the eyewitness reports there was a copious amount of blood involved and it was quite dramatic.

When I arrived, I found an alert, oriented and somewhat attractive woman sitting in a chair sipping orange juice. Her foot was elevated on another chair and had been dressed perfectly with cloth napkins. there was 2 of them folded perfectly as a trauma pad and 2 more rolled into cravats holding them onto the wounded part of her foot.

It seems that there were 2 trauma nurses and an EMT in the audience along with a bar manager willing to give up some linens. The bandage looked very good, wasn't soaking through and her toes were showing that it was not on too tight. She told me that the nurses and the EMT cleaned out the wound with a pitcher of ice water, dressed it with the napkins and gave her some orange juice because she was feeling woozy.

At this point, considering the quality of the foot dressing, the patient's mental status (good), level of pain (low) and proximity to a hospital (almost next door), there wasn't much for me to do but load her up. We did have a large audience and many of them taxpayers in our jurisdiction. Well, I love to do my job so I methodically checked her vital signs, got a good assessment of her foot further down from the injury to check for pulse, motor ability and sensation then we loaded her up and took her to the hospital.

I think the only thing we really provided above what she got from the bystanders was a stretcher! That's a case of good first aid.

The most frequent cases of inappropriate first aid that I see are when bystanders pull people from badly deformed cars in auto accidents. This presents a real danger of aggravating a life-threatening injury that requires immobilization before moving the patient. Many times, the patients remove themselves from the automobile.

Another frequent case of inappropriate first aid that I see comes, unfortunately, from the firefighter first responders that get to the scene before me. None of them are particularly egregious but they seem to indicate either a lack of skill or care. For example:

-A 35 year old female assault victim being administered oxygen via an infant rebreather mask. I changed that one out for an adult mask from my bag to the surprised and somewhat shamefaced looks from the firefighters.

-A firefighter attempting to move a patient with abdominal evisceration by pulling on his arms over his head. A clear and authoritative, "STOP!" put an end to that attempt.

-A patient having trouble breathing being administered 6 liters per minute of Oxygen via a Nasal Cannula and the nasal ports are not even pointing into the patient's nose. A nasal cannula is a tube with 2 holes in it that sits under the nostrils to supply oxygen. Useless for a patient that's breathing through their mouth and completely useless for a patient that's having trouble breathing.

-A hypothermic patient being treated with blankets and hot packs. What's wrong with that, you ask? They were being placed on TOP of the patient's wet, cold, cotton clothing. ("Hypothermia = Naked, no exceptions!" says I to the firefighters as I'm pulling off the patient's wet socks and shoes)

I don't have any particularly funny stories of inappropriate first aid. Voodoo and Santoria are not common in my area. I can imagine all kinds of stories of strange home remedies and odd poultices but, alas, I have none to tell myself.

How about my readers? Got any to share? Email me or drop it in the comments below.


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