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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bar Fight Turned Ugly

It was just after 2 in the morning. As we started out of the barn the radio crackled to life. Dispatch was talking to another unit about a first alarm assignment. There seemed to be some confusion about who was responding where. Then we heard that Truck 71 (which is station in the neighboring district) was also responding to the call. It seemed that something big was going on and we were in the dark. Dispatch informed us that we were responding to a different location around the corner from their incident. Truck 71 then asked that the next due engine be dispatched as well. Whatever was going on had a lot of resources moving.

We soon figured out that another city that uses our dispatch was working a structure fire and we caught their radio traffic before they switched to a tactical channel. As we turned the last corner we saw several PD units. Dispatch finally came through with an update as well. We were responding to a stabbing with multiple victims. We had the truck and another engine on the way, which meant a BC as well.

I jumped out of the rig and grabbed my gear. As we approached the scene we could see one victim laying in the street in handcuffs bleeding from the hands. An officer could be heard, almost screaming with urgency, that the other one had his guts hanging out. Since patient #1 wasn't so bad off we kept going.

On the side of the street we found patient #2. He was laying under a tree in the weeds. A police officer knelt beside him holding a trauma dressing down on the victim's abdomen as if his life depended on it. As I approached the cop started to move. I'm sure he was hoping to escape but I told him to stay right where he was. I did a quick 360 of the scene to look for any other patients and didn't see any. I also knew the truck should be pulling up any second so if there was another patient out of sight they would help him.

Patient #2 was covered in blood from his head to his knees. His shirt had been pulled up around his chest to expose wounds. I knelt beside him and asked his name. He was very lethargic. Not a good sign. Soon my engineer showed up and relieved the officer of his duties. I pulled out my trauma shears and started removing all the patient's clothes, looking for every injury. By now the external bleeding had stopped. I think this was more due to a lack of blood than anything we did.

I found 6 stab wounds in my patient. Two were to the side of the chest but appeared superficial. He had two more shallow wounds the left side of his abdomen near his hip. Another one was just to the left of his navel. The one that I was worried about was just under his rib cage on his left side. It was more than 2" wide and deep. I checked lung sounds to make sure he didn't have a pneumothorax. His lungs were okay.

We quickly strapped the young man to the backboard. Once he was secure we moved him to the ambulance. As soon as I jumped in the back with the AMR medic he directed his partner to drive. We would be taking care of everything while racing to the trauma center.

We both started IVs at the same time, one in each arm. While we were doing this our patient became unresponsive. Now that we had IV access we poured in the fluids. We wouldn't normally do this but our patient had no blood pressure. We were losing him. After a couple of minutes he perked right up. His blood pressure was 70/P, not good but better than it was.The victim actually tried to argue with us as to where we were taking him. We informed him that he was going to a trauma center because his hospital of choice was not capable of handling wounds of this nature.

Arriving at the ER we found several ambulance crews lining the hall. Word had spread that we had a good trauma patient and everyone wanted to get a look. As I helped to slide the patient over to the hospital bed, I gave my report to the MD. I could see that victim #3 (the one I never saw) was in the neighboring trauma bay already intubated. The RT was waiting on a ventilator breathing for the patient by hand.

That was the last I saw of my patient. I headed back to the station where I checked my gear for blood. Thankfully I had managed to not get any on me. I helped finish restocking our rig then went back to bed, 2 hours after the call came in.

---Follow Up---

I found out that my patient was in the ER for about 3 hours before taking a turn for the worse. While being stitched up he coded. The ER doc cracked the guy's chest to try to save him. When he did the doctor discovered that the stab wound had actually punctured the heart. He died there on the table. There is an ongoing police investigation.


Michaela said...

Jeez, Im sorry. What a tough night for you!

Im not sure what 'cracked the guys chest' means, but Im thinking they surgically opened his chest to get to his heart?

What a tragic waste of life. Goodness knows what the fight was about, or what the guy's role in it was. Im sad for his family.

Firefighter/Paramedic said...

Cracking a chest is exactly as you described. It's the quick and dirty way to get to the heart. A last ditch effort kind of thing.

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