* Acute injury equipment *
By serger

Taking care of the injured

About a month ago (July 2002) I had a very bad bicycle wreck. If my son had not been there to clear my airway I would have probably drowned in my own vomit due to being knocked out from the impact of my head against the sidewalk. I found out as a Boy Scout he knows useful things. As it worked out I have two broken ribs and as close to a dislocated shoulder and scapula as you can get. I also had a moderate concussion. While at the emergency room the ER Tech and I found out the effectiveness of narcotic analgesia on me is about non-existent. After they gave me the 23rd ml of morphine in slightly over an hour without effect they couldnít give any more because it was depressing my heart rate. The welcome morphine numbness of being packed in warm cotton balls and blissful sleep never came. It was an interesting Friday.

The broken ribs didnít hurt until they rasped against each other. The shoulder was out of service and very painful. Iím just now getting the use of it back and thankfully I donít think I tore up anything. Their sling was very nice for my poor pitiful arm.

So, what does this all have to do with anything? Being one armed is inconvenient to say the least. There are things you take for granted that donít work with one arm. As I reflected (and to some degree still do) on this, it occurred to me in a post event situation being moderately injured without mechanical aids could have grave consequences.

With all the medical appliances available I think a team or individual could with a small cash outlay at least ensure in less than a totally disabling injury the hurt people could do something for themselves. Iíve seen at the thrift stores and medical supply peddlerís things that you donít need often but if you do you need them badly.

I feel based on my little fiasco you need at least the following equipment:

A sling for a screwed up arm.

A crutch for a screwed up leg.

A brace for a screwed up hand.

Neck braces for the neck.

Metal finger cots for screwed up fingers.

An orthopedic shoe for a screwed up foot.

A wheel chair for someone who canít walk.

A walker for those who can sort of walk but canít put a lot of weight on their feet or have a degraded sense of balance.

Mole Skin to pad places that get rubbed.

Padding to comfort the sore spots.

Medical cloth tape (itís the doctors equivalent of duct tape)

Elastic wrap bandages to hold things together. I say this because regardless what the Medicos say Iíd like the ribs held together when I cough or sneeze. The first time I sneezed I almost blacked out because the pain was so exquisite.

Stocking knit to provide coverings.

If you have access to a moderately sized thrift store and can swing by and look a time or two a week you should be able to find the crutch, orthopedic shoe, walker and wheel chair. I think people get rid of this type of thing because they donít want to think about it or having to need the equipment. The other things would be in your medical section of a well-stocked store with the exception of the neck brace. That will probably have to be procured from a medical specialty supply house.

Yes I know you can use a tongue depressor to immobilize a finger and broomsticks for a pseudo crutch but why make your situation worse than you have to.

To isolate broken bones without the use of a cast I think a Sam splint would be good for the short term but since it is non permeable I feel the chance of disease and infection would preclude itís long term use. Another solution I feel would be useable would be the use of hardware cloth and form a cast of sorts to immobilize the broken part. If you have access and you can learn to apply it you can put aside some casting material. I tend to not like this approach due to the reduced sanitary facilities weíd see in a post event situation. I have seen the use of "windows" on plaster and fiberglass casts to monitor areas that require access to keep clean and monitor healing. But if you are in say Atlanta Georgia or Jackson Mississippi or McAlester Oklahoma or Grafton Virginia or Houma Louisiana in July or August in a post event situation without air conditioning I think the metal mesh splint/cast might be easier to deal with than a plaster cast. At least you could see where the rotten smell was coming from easier.

The majority of these tools we have at the serger house with the exception of the chair. The next time I head to Denver I guess Iíll check out the thrift stores to see if I can find a wheel chair. One thing on them, thereís many sizes and if you are planning on taking care of pediatric as well as adult patients you need a couple different sizes. In fact all the appliances above need some degree of sizing.

So think a little about this while youíre not hurt badly. In a post event situation you might really need one of them to help someone you care about or worse they might need to put the stuff on you so you can take care of those who are really hurt.

May you not live in interesting times like I did a few Fridays ago.

Thanks for the read.


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