It’s normally pretty easy to get a patient out of a house. They either walk, or we put them on our collapsible carrying chair and carry/wheel them out. Occasionally you come across a job where that simple approach isn’t going to work. This is often a ‘satisfying’ job as you have to problem solve for a change.
We were sent to a teenager that had hurt her leg playing football in the garden. We arrived to find the girl laying on the living room floor. Also present was her mother, older brother and baby sister. The girl had indeed been playing football and, due to circumstances that I shall obscure for reasons of privacy, had broken her leg right up where it joins with the hip.
This is often an injury related to age, old people fall over and ‘break their hip’, and this was the exact same injury. The problem with this is that we can’t really carry them out on our chair because of the pain and further injury that can be caused by the two ends of the bone grinding together chewing up muscle, nerves and potentially damaging the main artery that supplies blood to your leg. If you damage that it’s very easy to bleed to death.
“No problem”, we thought. The girl herself is light and the mother and older brother are sensible people. So we warned everyone involved that it would take a bit of time to remove the patient from the house in a safe and as pain-free as possible manner.
Now, with a patient like this we would normally put our scoop underneath, strap them in a bit and then lift them onto our proper trolley-bed. Unfortunately, in this case, the angle to the front door was such that we wouldn’t be able to get our large trolley-bed into the house, and giving the scoop a dry run, we wouldn’t be able to fit that out the front door either.
Didn’t those people who designed houses eighty years ago consider modern ambulance stretchers? Typical really.
So we sat an thought for a moment, the patient was calm (and by now the pain relief we had given her was working), the mother was calm, the older brother was calm, baby sister filled her nappy (that or my crewmate farted but managed to keep a straight face). Could we go out through the garden? Nope, no access to the street through that route. Could we open the living room window and pass her out that way? Nope, the design of the window precluded us doing that.
If we strapped the patient to the scoop really well then we could tilt the scoop up by 50 degrees and fit the scoop (and patient) through the door.
However this involves a lot more strapping in a way that we don’t really get much practice in. Then you follow it up by a bit of faith that when you lift the scoop up the patient isn’t just going to slip out the end of the scoop and end up in a painful heap on the floor.
So we explained what we were going to do (Rule#1 in keeping patients calm, explain what you are going to do) and spent the next ten minutes tying her to the scoop, hoping that we were doing it right…
Then came the moment of truth – we lifted her up, carried her towards the door and tilting her up held our breath.
It worked perfectly, she didn’t move an inch, she didn’t cry out in pain and most importantly – we didn’t drop her.
From there it was a simple job to carry her to the ambulance where we travelled as carefully to hospital as possible in speed-hump infested East London.
She was seen pretty much immediately by an A&E consultant.
Job’s a good’un