Save 86

Save 86: Confirmed   

I’ve been carrying a med kit as part of my everyday carry for several years now. It’s now second nature to just strap on my ankle kit before I walk out the door and head out into the world. Occasionally, I’ve used my gloves, pressure bandage or my trauma shears to help someone out. Outside of working as an Air Force Medic or an EMT though, I hadn’t had to use my medical kits to save someone. Today, I have joined the customers and students of Dark Angel Medical to record save number 86. A small 4 door sedan was turning left on a stale green against incoming two-lane traffic. The vehicle was struck on the passenger side with enough force to push the vehicle up over the curb and spun to face the intersection. My wife Hannah and I had just pulled into the traffic lane when I noticed the vehicle with its airbags deployed and people scrambling to assist. “Take over the truck, I’m heading over!” I shouted to Hannah as I hopped out of the driver's seat and sprinted to the scene. Ensuring the scene was safe to approach as I removed my ankle rig I peered inside the shattered passenger doors glass at the driver and passenger. The passenger door had been pushed in 2 feet and had pinned the passenger to the center console, her right leg pressed over the top of her left. Fatty tissue and blood covered the dash board. I noticed a little adrenaline started to kick in and my legs were shaking like Elvis. It’s certainly different coming on scene when it’s not part of work.

I immediately started putting my gloves on, and asked both passengers how they were doing. The driver, who was visibly injury free, asked me to take care of the passenger first. An elderly woman on blood thinners. I began to ask her questions while performing a blood sweep. I found her left leg had blood on it but had no visible injuries, her right on the other hand had both Tibia and Fibula fractures, was partially amputated below her right knee and was bleeding profusely. Her bleeding was venous (dark red) and not arterial, however due to the blood thinners the volume loss was severe. I took out my tourniquet to apply and ran into an issue; her leg was pinned to her other leg and there was no room to squeeze even the band of a tourniquet under for bleeding control. I opened up my hemostatic agent gauze and began to pack up into the rapidly bleeding wound. Once the wound was packed and I was actively applying pressure I used my free hand to feel for her radial pulse. She had none, on either side. She had lost enough blood that the only pulse felt was her carotid which was rapid and becoming weak due to shock. She was pale and slow to respond to my questions.

Throughout the treatment, I kept speaking with her, not only establishing her level of consciousness but directing her mind away from the trauma. Our conversation allowed me to keep her awake, as well as constantly reassess her airway, breathing and circulation (if she’s talking she’s still got enough blood going to her brain). My one package of hemostatic gauze was becoming saturated with blood when the fire department arrived. While continuing to hold pressure a Fire Medic and I were able lift and push the tourniquet strap just enough under her pinned leg to get it applied. Once applied, and the bleeding was stopped I no longer needed to hold pressure on the gauze and stepped away so the medics could cut her out of the car.


"What are the odds?"

I’m often picked on for carrying my med kit, people ask “what are the odds?” and today it shows they’re greater than one may think. I carry a med kit, because today I was able to help. I was ready when the time chose me to be an asset to society and as of writing this my patient has been reported being admitted to the hospital. Me carrying a med kit, I’d like to think, was a direct influence on her being alive this evening. I challenge you to do the same, carry a trauma kit, and potentially save a life.