Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Laziness Kills: An EMT Story

Laziness Kills: An EMT Story should be considered with the same disclaimer as all the stories on this site. This story is fictional. Any resemblance to any person or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

I was still a student when I went on this call. I was doing my third rides. Third rides are what it is called when you are the third person on an ambulance. A third rider is usually a student, or a new employee who is in training. Sometimes a third rider is someone who works for your organization, but has a job in the office or in dispatch. This type of person needs to be on the ambulance some to keep enough hours to retain their certification. All of that just to explain that I was a third in that day.

We were dispatched emergency to a man who had fallen off a ladder. I took a deep breath as I climbed out of the back. The back is where you ride when you’re a third. I was nervous as hell. My knees were a little weak. Luckily, no one could see my hands shaking because I picked up the jump bag on my way out the door.

When you approach a scene, you need to do a visual assessment. You’re looking to see if the scene is safe, how many victims you have etc… In this case, there was a crowd of workmen surrounding a man lying on the ground. He was lying on his side next to a bundle of clay shingles. It didn’t take an expert to see he was in bad shape.

The fire dept. was on scene. They already had control of the patient’s cervical spine. This is call C-Spine in the field. This is done to keep the patients neck and back in line to prevent any further injury. The medic I was riding with slapped me on the back and said “Get me some vitals.” The EMT on the truck was grabbing a backboard and some straps. The paramedic started questioning the crowd.

The man’s coworkers stated the man was climbing the ladder with the clay shingles when he lost his balance and fell. He was carrying the shingles on his right shoulder and when he fell, they landed on his head. I took a set of vitals. What stuck out was a low heart rate, low oxygen saturation and uneven respirations. Using the proper method, we rolled him on a backboard. The paramedic made the decision to intubate. Intubation is when you place a tube in the patient’s trachea to secure their airway and breathe for them. Paramedics love to intubate.

Upon opening the patients mouth the paramedic found the skull had fractured inside the mouth. We hustled and got the patient packaged, and we were off to the hospital emergency. We raced to the hospital. The patient declined the entire way showing signs of ICP, or intracranial pressure. We found out later the patient died.

People don’t realize how every day actions can affect or even kill them. This guy was a roofer. I’m sure he’d climbed a ladder hundreds, maybe thousands of times. He’d probably even done it hundreds of times carrying shingles. Here’s the thing. There was a rope within a few feet of the ladder. That rope was supposed to be tied around those bundles of shingles so they could be pulled up safely. It brings a new meaning to the term safety first doesn’t it?

We do this every day. Myself included. We cut corners to save time or just because we’re lazy. Think about who were are as human beings. We’re not very good at preparing for things we think might happen. We usually make safety rules after someone has been hurt or killed. We think we’re exempt, bullet proof, or better than those who caused us to write those rules. Laziness kills…This story is fictional. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

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