Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Almost Passed It By

We spent the weekend in the Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, an off-road park located in Imperial County. The park is largely funded through off-road license fees and are a very popular place for off-roaders to camp and ride.

As last weekend was a three day weekend, Ocotilo Wells was pretty busy. Too busy, in fact, for my taste. I'm one of those guys who goes to the desert to be away from people, not share the experience with thousands of others.  That being said, we did have a great time and I am glad that I went.

The group that I was with consisted of two jeeps, a side by side and four quads and ranged from 60 something down to 8. We had visited Gas Dome, a unique geologic feature located within the park, when we came upon an accident involving a Razr side by side.

The dust had just settled when I arrived, I saw a man holding his left hand and a couple of other guys righting the Razr. My first impression was that someone had rolled the Razr (correct) and had hurt their hand in the process (also correct - though under estimated). I also thought that as no has ever died from a hand injury and as there was a ton of people already there, It was best for me to continue down the road.

Dave, one of our party, had stopped before I had arrived. I hadn't noticed him there, but he had been over to take a look at the guy's hand. He didn't like what he saw. The Saint rolled down the window as Dave walked toward the Jeep.

"Schmoe, you gotta take a look at the guy's hand, It's really bad".

Shit. How bad can it be? I parked the jeep and walked over to the guy. His hand was covered with a small towel, I asked him if I could take a look. He gingerly removed the towel.

Double shit, the hand was a mess. A crushing type injury with numerous apparent fractures, two avulsions,  lacerations, poor color coupled with mobility and sensation issues. Did I mention delayed cap refill in the injured hand? How about that his hand was really messed up? The hand looked like something out of the "Farm Injury" chapter in the EMT book. The victim denied neck/back/head pain, though appeared pale.

I carry some stuff in the Jeep for events such as this so I tossed the towel and used some kling and an ABD pad to hold the fingers in position, then wrapped the hand with some more kling. I didn't have anything with me to use as a splint, so I asked around. Nobody else did either so the poor guy just held it in place.

The next item for discussion was how to get the guy to real treatment. It was probably 20-30 minutes to pavement, then another 30+ to the hospital in Brawley. I figured that we would drive him out till we got to cell-service. We were discussing the options, when someone else pulled up and told us that the rangers were on the way.

I was surprised how fast someone got there. The first to show up were a couple of State Park guys who were first responders I think. I gave them my assessment as they contacted the patient. They unwrapped the hand just enough to verify my assessment, then wrapped it back up. A splint was applied as well. I "turned" pt. care over to them and returned to jeeper-photographer mode, a role I enjoy far better these days.

A few minutes later, an SUV with a couple of guys from CAL Fire showed up, as well as some State Park Rangers. The CAL-Fire guys were EMTs, everybody seemed to know each other and worked well together.

 After a short discussion, it was determined that due to the damage of the hand and the fact that a specialty surgeon would likely be needed to salvage functionality, flying the pt. to Desert Regional would be the best option. Again, I was surprised at how fast the bird got there.

The bird landed and a flight nurse (I assume) hopped out and made pt. contact.

 After a very few minutes, the pt. was placed in a truck and driven closer to the chopper, where he was then led to the bird and loaded up. A few seconds later and they were on their way.

Not too much longer. and we were on ours.

I chatted with some of the people who responded. Sadly, trauma such as this is very common on busy weekends. State Parks, CAL- Fire, private ambulance and Mercy-Air all have a role in the EMS response and it seems like like they have it figured out. Granted, the location of this incident was fairly accessible, some areas of the park are not. However, I was very happy with the response time and with the care provided.

I just hope it worked out for the pt.

Thanks for reading,

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