Simulation makes us more effective. I think it’s good to consider how one would deal with emergency situations in every day life, and practice the response. There are ALWAYS learning points.
My four year old son Kal brought along his rubber red bellied black snake on a New Year’s Day bush walk with my family. Too good an opportunity to miss, so we practiced managing a snakebite scenario. What we did and what we learned are summarised in this three minute video:
This was a worthwhile exercise. Learning points were:
1. Carry a knife to help cut up the teeshirt (if you don’t carry bandages)
2. Call for help early – it takes several minutes to apply the pressure immobilisation bandage, so ideally these things are done in parallel rather than series.
3. Know how to get your coordinates from your smart phone. Several free apps are available.
On an Apple iPhone, they are displayed on the ‘Compass’ app but ONLY if you have enabled location services (Settings->Privacy->Location Services->Compass)
Purpose Traumatic disruption of the pelvis can lead to significant morbidity and mortality. ATLS® guidance advocates temporary stabilisation or ‘closure’ of the disrupted pelvis with a compression device or sheet. We undertook a best evidence equipment review to assess the ease and efficacy of the application of two leading commercially available devices, the T-POD® and the SAM Pelvic Sling™ II.
Methods Fifty health care professionals and medical students participated in pelvic circumferential compression device (PCCD) education and assessment. Participants received a 10-min lecture on the epidemiology and aetiology of pelvic fractures and the principles of circumferential compression, followed by a practical demonstration. Three volunteers acted as trauma victims. Assessment included the time taken to secure the devices and whether this was achieved correctly. All participants completed a post-assessment survey.
Results Both devices were applied correctly 100% of the time. The average time taken to secure the SAM Pelvic Sling™ II was 18 s and for the T-POD®, it was 31 s (p ≤ 0.0001). Forty-four participants (88%) agreed or strongly agreed that the SAM Pelvic Sling™ II was easy to use compared to 84% (n = 42) for the T-POD®. Thirty-nine participants (78%) reported that they preferred and, given the choice in the future, would select the T-POD® over the SAM Pelvic Sling™ II (n = 11, 22%).
Conclusions The results of this study indicate that both PCCDs are easy and acceptable to use and, once learned, can be applied easily and rapidly. Participants applied both devices correctly 100% of the time, with successful application taking, on average, less than 60 s.
Notes from Days 2 & 3 of the London Trauma Conference
Day 2 of the LTC was really good. There were some cracking speakers who clearly had the ‘gift’ when it comes to entertaining the audience. No death by PowerPoint here (although it seems Keynote is now the presentation software of choice!). The theme of the day was prehospital care and major incidents.
The golden nuggets to take away include: (too many to list all of course)
‘Pull’ is the key to rapid extrication from cars if time critical from the Norweigan perspective. Dr Lars Wik of the Norweigen air ambulance presented their method of rapid extrication. Essentially they drag the car back on the road or away from what ever it has crashed into to control the environment and make space (360 style). They put a paramedic in the car whilst this is happening. They then make a cut in the A post near the roof, secure the rear of the car to a fire truck or fixed object with a chain and put another chain around the lower A post and steering wheel that is then winched tight. This has the effect of ‘reversing’ the crash and a few videos showed really fast access to the patient. The car seems to peel open. As they train specifically for it, there doesn’t seem to be any safety problems so far and its much quicker than their old method. I guess it doesnt matter really how you organise a rapid extrication method as long as it is trained for and everyone is on the same page.
Dr Bob Winter presented his thoughts on hangings – to date no survivor of a non-judicial hanging has had a C-spine injury, so why do we collar them? Also there seems no point in cooling them. All imaging and concern for these patients should be based on the significant soft tissue injury that can be caused around the neck.
Drownings – if the patient is totally submerged probably reasonable to search for 30mins in water that is >6 degrees or 90mins if <6 degrees. After that it becomes a body recovery (unless there is an air pocket or some exceptional circumstance). Patients that have drowned should have early ventilatory support if they show any signs of resp distress.
Drs Julian Thompson and Mark Byers reassured us on a variety of safety issues at major incidents. It seems the risk to rescuers from secondary bombs at scene is low. Very few terrorist attacks world wide, ever, have had secondary devices so rescuers should be reassured (a bit). Greatest risk to the rescuer, like always, are the silly simple things that are a risk every day, like tripping over your own feet! With reference to chemical incidents, simple PPE seems to be sufficient for the vast majority of incidents, even fairly significant chemical ones, all this mucking about in full air tight suits is probably pointless and means patients cant be treated (at all). This led to the debate of how much risk should we, as rescue staff, accept? Clearly there are no absolute answers but minimising all risk to the rescuer is often at conflict with your ability to rescue. Where the balance should lie is a matter for organisations and individuals I guess.
Sir Prof Keith Porter also gave us an update on the future of Prehospital emergency medicine as a recognised medical specialty. As those in the know, know, the specialty has been recognised by the GMC and the first draft of trainees are currently in post. More deaneries will be following suit soon to begin training but it is likely to take some time to build up large numbers of trained specialists. Importantly for those of us who already have completed our training there will be an option to sub specialise in PHEM but it will involve undertaking the FIMC exam. Great, more exams – see you there.
Day 3 – Major trauma
The focus of day 3 was that of damage control. Damage control surgery and damage control resucitation. We had indepth discussions about how to manage pelvic trauma and some of the finer points of trauma resuscitation.
Specific points raised were:
Pelvic binders are great and can replace an ex fix if the abdomen needs opening to fix a spleen for example.
You can catheterise patients with pelvic fractures (one gentle try).
Most pelvic bleeds are venous which is why surgeons who can pack a pelvis is better than a radiologist who can mainly only treat arterial bleeds.
Coagulopathy in trauma is not DIC and is probably caused by peripheral hypoperfusion.
All the standard clotting tests that we use (INR etc) are useless and take too long to do. ROTEM or TEG is much better but still not perfect.
Also, as I am sure will please many – pressure isn’t flow so dont use pressors in trauma!
Chris Hill is an emergency and prehospital care physician based in the United Kingdom
The tradition of transporting trauma patients to hospital in a supine position may not be the safest approach in obtunded patients with unprotected airways. The ‘solution’ of having them on an extrication board (backboard / long spine board) to enable rolling them to one side in the event of vomiting may not be practicable for limited crew numbers.
The Norwegians have been including the option of the lateral trauma position in their pre-hospital trauma life support training for some years now.
A questionnaire study demonstrates that this method has successfully been adopted by Norwegian EMS systems.
The method of application is described as:
Check airways (look, listen, feel).
Apply chin lift/jaw thrust, suction if needed.
Apply stiff neck collar.
If the patient is unresponsive, but has spontaneous respiration: Roll patient to lateral/recovery position while maintaining head/neck position.
Roll to side that leaves the patient facing outwards in ambulance coupé.
Transfer to ambulance stretcher (Scoop-stretcher, log-roll onto stretcher mattress, or use multiple helpers, lifting by patient’s clothing).
Support head, secure with three belts (across legs, over hip, over shoulder)
Manual support of head, supply oxygen, observation, suction, BVM (big valve mask) ventilation when needed.
Different options for supporting the head in the lateral position, according to questionnaire responders, include:
putting padding under the head, such as a pillow or similar item (81%)
a combination of padding and putting the head on the lower arm (7%)
rest the head on the lower arm alone (10%)
rest the head on the ground (<1%)
BACKGROUND: Trauma patients are customarily transported in the supine position to protect the spine. The Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, and Exposure (ABCDE) principles clearly give priority to airways. In Norway, the lateral trauma position (LTP) was introduced in 2005. We investigated the implementation and current use of LTP in Norwegian Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
METHODS: All ground and air EMS bases in Norway were included. Interviews were performed with ground and air EMS supervisors. Questionnaires were distributed to ground EMS personnel.
RESULTS: Of 206 ground EMS supervisors, 201 answered; 75% reported that LTP is used. In services using LTP, written protocols were present in 67% and 73% had provided training in LTP use. Questionnaires were distributed to 3,025 ground EMS personnel. We received 1,395 (46%) valid questionnaires. LTP was known to 89% of respondents, but only 59% stated that they use it. Of the respondents using LTP, 77% reported access to written protocols. Flexing of the top knee was reported by 78%, 20% flexed the bottom knee, 81% used under head padding. Of 24 air EMS supervisors, 23 participated. LTP is used by 52% of the services, one of these has a written protocol and three arrange training.
CONCLUSIONS: LTP is implemented and used in the majority of Norwegian EMS, despite little evidence as to its possible benefits and harms. How the patient is positioned in the LTP differs. More research on LTP is needed to confirm that its use is based on evidence that it is safe and effective.
The Executive Committee of Prehospital Trauma Life Support, comprised of surgeons, emergency physicians, and paramedics, has reviewed the literature and produced the following recommendations on Prehospital Spine Immobilisation for Penetrating Trauma:
There are no data to support routine spine immobilization in patients with penetrating trauma to the neck or torso.
There are no data to support routine spine immobilization in patients with isolated penetrating trauma to the cranium.
Spine immobilization should never be done at the expense of accurate physical examination or identification and correction of life-threatening conditions in patients with penetrating trauma.
Spinal immobilization may be performed after penetrating injury when a focal neurologic deficit is noted on physical examination although there is little evidence of benefit even in these cases.
Splinted any pelvises lately? Karim Brohi’s excellent trauma.org article outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the different devices on the market. One such is the T-POD, which has now been described in a small series in which its application to patients with unstable pelvic injury was associated with improved haemodynamics and decreased symphyseal diastasis.
Here’s a video demonstrating application of the device.
A cadaveric study using a 3-dimensional electromagnetic tracking device to asses cervical motion compared the application of a scoop stretcher with two other manual transfer techniques, including log rolling onto an extrication (spine) board. The scoop method restricted cervical spine movement more than log rolling, although this was not statistically significant.
The authors conclude: the effectiveness of the scoop stretcher to limit spinal motion in the destabilized spine is comparable or better than manual techniques currently being used by primary responders. Are scoop stretchers suitable for use on spine-injured patients? Am J Emerg Med. 2010 Sep;28(7):751-6