Wednesday, December 22

Minor Trauma, Near Heart Attack for the Prof.

Call came in yesterday evening: MVA rollover, state police on the scene asking for an evaluation.

The scene is in the middle of nowhere. The secondary roads, which are all we’ll be on for the whole call, are covered with a mix of packed snow, ice, and slush (you can’t see pavement). On the way to the scene I felt like we were going a bit fast, and the medic even said “slow down, rescue is already there and it is just an evaluation”. This is very non-subtle foreshadowing…

On scene: Our patient is a 17 y/o female sitting in a police car shaking. She was the restrained driver of a pickup that rolled over and is in fairly good shape, but due to the mechanism of injury (the car + her report she hit her head) we took full spinal immobilization precautions. As we leave the scene I say to the driver: “[blank] we can get going, nice and easy please”. I am focusing on the patient, doing further assessment, taking vitals, etc. About 8 minutes into the ride back, the rig swerves one way, then we are sliding, then we swerve the other way, and SLIDE.... and then we stop.

For the 10 seconds or so I was convinced we were going to rollover, I had about thousand thoughts go through my head. Am I going to die taking care of someone else while my family at home needs me? How smart am I to let volunteer drivers who are over the age of 55 control my safety? Do we have enough people around to staff a second rig to come take care of us? What agency would come as mutual aid? I was scared…

“I think I hit it!” comes from the front. My heart rate is right up near 120 when I assess what happened. OK, we are upright, I heard no crunching, and everyone is fine. Hit what? Deer, I’m thinking. “I should go out and see if the car is ok”. Car? We hit a car? How many people? How badly hurt?

Turns out we hit a parked car. We did a bit of damage to the car. The rig has a ding and three-foot scrape, but is otherwise fine.

The whole experience did remind me how vulnerable we are in the back of an ambulance. In my agency people do not wear seat belts in the back. I wonder if we should?