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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why So Serious?

There were cops everywhere. The blue and red lights on their vehicles mixing with our red and white lights caused an almost strobing effect on the scene.


A sergeant met us at the sidewalk and said the guy was inside on the floor. The assailant was gone. Walking around the outside of the house were several other officers. From the back of the K-9 unit a police dog could be heard excitedly barking. In the front yard a woman sat in a state of shock.

The blood trail started on the walkway to the house. As we followed it up the three steps to the front door the splotches of reddish brown grew in size. Through the door I could see my patient laying on his right side. He was wearing a sweatshirt and Levi's which were both soaked with blood. The man was trying to cradle the side of his face and head with a towel.

I squatted down (I didn't want to kneel like I would normally do because of all the blood on the floor) next to my patient and introduced myself. He was alert and oriented but understandably a little panicked. He said that he had been stabbed at least once and then had walked into the bathroom to get a towel. On his way back outside he had only made it to the living room.

I had the man remove his hands and his towel so I could get a look at what I was dealing with. He had a full thickness laceration starting about 2 inches behind his left ear. The knife had sliced forward from that point just missing the ear lobe and stopping less than an inch away from the corner of the mouth. It looked like the knife wielding bad guy had tried to slit my patients throat but was thwarted by a downward tilted head. Unfortunately for my patient the bleeding had stopped. He was too low on blood the keep bleeding from this serious wound.

My engineer started cutting the clothes off my patient while I applied a trauma dressing. As we rolled the patient off of his right side we discovered another stab wound. This one was in the upper right quadrant of his abdomen right where his liver should be. It was bleeding quite a bit and his skin was bulging from blood that had accumulated it. In my mind my patient just went from very serious to critical.

Thankfully AMR showed up just then. The paramedic had been told outside that it was a bad facial wound but realized as soon as he saw us working that it was more serious. We placed a hasty dressing on the abdominal wound and lifted the patient onto the gurney. On the way out we put him on oxygen. Since we couldn't strap the mask to his face we simply tried to balance it as best we could.

In the back of the ambulance I checked lung sounds to make sure the knife hadn't caused a pneumothorax. The EMT had everything set up for an IV so I went for it. I heard the driver jump in the front seat. She asked if we were ready to roll. I asked for 5 seconds. Within three seconds there was a large bore IV in his left arm. We then rolled code 3 to the trauma center at the local university.

The patient was compensating well for the loss of blood. While his heart rate had increased his BP stayed above 110 systolic. We watched his BP closely. If it fell too far we would have to give him some fluids to make up for the loss of blood.

With one IV in and dressings on the wounds I found I had the time to do another quick head to toe.I hadn't missed any other wounds. Then I focused on keeping the oxygen mask on my patient and talking to him. Both to reassure him and to continually assess his mental status. An altered mental status would probably be one of the earliest signs that he was losing too much blood.

While talking to my patient I noticed there was some blood coming out from the bandage on his face. A lot of blood. I asked for another trauma dressing and held both in place with direct pressure. The patient was now becoming slow to respond to my questions. His BP was falling. We gave him a fluid challenge to keep it up. The problem with that is that blood carries several vital things to and from the body which saline is not capable of doing. At best we were stop gapping. The patient needed blood and surgery, fast.

The AMR medic started a second line, put the patient on the heart monitor and rechecked vitals. He also called ahead to the medical center to let them know we were coming.

Just a few never ending minutes later we pulled up to the ER. Everyone cleared out of our way and stared at out blood covered patient and gurney. Inside we were met by an army of hospital staff. We swapped the patient over to the hospital gurney and I started to give my report to the MD.

Now I don't mean to offend trauma docs but you guys are arrogant pricks. At least a lot of you are.

I had not even finished my first sentence and the doctor put up his hand and ssshhhhh'ed me. He didn't want to hear a thing I had to say. No chief complaint, vitals, treatments....not a thing. He wanted his trauma nurse to do a once over on the patient and to tell him what she had found. The last thing I heard was the MD yelling (so much for staying calm, cool, and collected) that he wasn't interested in the laceration to the patients face.

After the call the AMR crew cleaned their rig and did paperwork. They were kind enough to drop me off at my station as well. When I got back to the station I had to swap out my turnouts so I could wash out the blood on the ones I was wearing. Then it was back to bed.


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