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Tommy T
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« on: June 19, 2014, 08:31:06 AM »

Be Prepared!  That's the Boy Scout's motto and yesterday I put it to work.

I'm trained as a Wilderness First Responder, although my certification is long since expired, and I carry emergency gear, in my car, in my pack, even in my ski parka pockets.  

Yesterday, about 20 miles West of Gunnison, CO, on US 50, I put that training to its use more thoroughly than I had ever used it before.

A woman from Britain on a bicycle tour crashed on the pavement violently enough to tear the handlebar off the bike.  She was unconscious for about a minute, had bleeding from her mouth and several spots on her left arm and was breathing in very shallow, rapid little gasps.

Cell phones were used to contact emergency services and I started routine monitoring of the woman's condition.  

There was no external arterial bleeding and no obvious broken bones -- possible concussion was suspected and position was adjusted to keep her flat, warm and, as she began to clear up and could communicate, reasonably comfortable and reassured.

I did standard recording at 5 minute intervals of pulse, breathing rate, level of awareness, indicators of blood pressure and progress of the condition of her left hand (which had a pulse at the wrist but was turning purple (some internal bleeding?)  and feeling cool to the touch -- we slightly elevated it to improve drainage and tested feeling and control -- none at first but gradually coming back).  My wife took my dictated notes and the observations were updated until an ambulance arrived, about a half-hour later.

The other bikers gave the medics a description of the accident and I gave them my observations and log.  

I didn't save a life, but the chief medic did say that my log was very important to the actions they would take and even to the diagnosis that would be made at the hospital.  Direction and amount of change in indicators were a big help to the pros (all toward the good in this case).  

That's the second time I've had a pretty big deal to face and I think I pulled it off OK both times.  In this context, OK means I didn't do any damage, and I eased things for the victim, and I helped get ready for the medics who ultimately took over.

Think about how you would respond if this happened in the back country.  Get the knowledge and carry the gear.  (Dealing with strangers in the backcountry, I have drained and bandaged a heel blister and dealt with a constipation case at an AMC shelter.  Undecided)

Tommy T.



« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 08:36:58 AM by Tommy T » Logged

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2014, 08:45:04 PM »

Nice Job. I've helped litter carry before but never had a chance to practice major wilderness first aid skills before.  Just stitches on myself.
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Tommy T
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 10:00:48 PM »

Thank Goodness, I've never had a major case really in the wilderness.  I don't know how I would react to life and death decisions like "put on a tourniquet and maybe lose the leg or just apply pressure to slow the bleeding and try to get out before the victim bleeds to death."

My other big event was a motorcyclist who went down on wet pavement in Deep East Texas while wearing shorts and a T-shirt.  (He was wearing a helmet.)  I had to deal with bare bone in the arm and strong arterial bleeding in the leg.  Ambulance help could be expected quickly, so I stopped the femoral bleeding with an elastic hold down strap from a pick-up driver. Then, using a hospital sized med kit from a semi driver, I got some pressure on the arm and got it covered with a sterile bandage just so the ex-rider didn't keep trying to look at it.  (That's the only time I've seen a big stretch of living, white human bone.  Somewhat of a shock!)

I had the semi-driver carry on a steady conversation, the idea being to monitor the level of awareness, and he was also taking pulse at the wrist continuously.  (Loss of the wrist pulse would mean a serious drop in blood pressure.)

All in all, I prefer being a snow-boarding trumpet player to being an emergency vehicle medic. 

Tommy T.     
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Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.
                                                                             -- Pablo Picasso
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