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Home > Topics > Safety
May 27, 2014

I was grateful for tape and dirty laundry for a c-spine on Thanksgiving

The PIC arrived on scene, took one look at my superstar c-spine and started laughing. “Kid," he said, "You're gonna make one hell of a medic!”

By Dana McDonald

It was Thanksgiving, and I had chosen to do my ER clinical for EMT-B school that day.  Don't ask me why. I guess I figured, if I was going to pursue a career in EMS I should get used to working holidays.

That day in the ER was pretty quiet. The only patient during my rotation was a woman who attempted suicide by taking an entire prescription of antibiotics. Yes, an entire month's worth of antibiotics. The ER doc ordered an activated charcoal gastric lavage.   As the lowest member on the totem pole that day, I was the lucky person chosen to hold the bucket for this woman's post gastric charcoal vomit. With that exciting task completed, the charge nurse dismissed me. 

I began my drive to my parent's house, with my truck full of dirty laundry to wash at home. I was heading north on 90/94 out of the city of Chicago. As I approached the 90/94 split, six lanes of speeding morons. A short distance ahead, a silver sports car was weaving in and out of traffic. Next thing I know, the sports car cuts to the right across four lanes of traffic. Then all of the sudden the car swerved back to the left.  The driver lost control of the car, and went careening over the concrete barrier of the far left lane. 

Without even thinking, I pulled over and put in a call to 911. I alerted dispatch, and hustled over to the car. As I approached the vehicle the passenger door flew open and a young guy popped out. He was on his cell phone telling someone, him and his friend had just crashed. I asked him if he was OK.  He nodded “yes” and went back to his conversation. 

I opened the driver's door to a restrained male huffing and puffing after hitting the airbag. I told him not to move his head and to stay as still as possible. I ran to my truck as fast as my little legs could go. I quickly grabbed a roll of electrical tape, and about six dirty hoodies from my laundry bag, and ran back to the wreck.

Very quickly I made two head rolls out of my sweatshirts. I wasn't able to get into the back seat to control c-spine manually because there was no room, so I placed my dirty hoodie head rolls on either side of this guy's head, and secured his c-spine to the back of his seat with about ¾ a roll of electrical tape. 

By the time I had finished, CFD rolled up in an ALS engine. The PIC took one look at my superstar c-spine and started laughing. He called to the rest of the guys on the rig, “Hey, come check out this c-spine!” They all took a look and laughed. The PIC asked if I was a medic and I politely explained my position. He clapped me on the back and said, “Kid you're gonna make one hell of a medic!”

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