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Texas paramedics recognized for advanced treatment of trauma patient in crash

Parker County Hospital District paramedics faced an amputation and having to perform bilateral finger thoracostomies


Parker County Hospital District EMS/Facebook

Weatherford Democrat

PARKER COUNTY, Texas — Four Parker County Hospital District paramedics were recently recognized with the prestigious “Texas Department of State Health Services EMS Person of the Year” award at this year’s Texas EMS Conference.

The award honors an EMS-certified person who has demonstrated uncommon leadership and courage in providing emergency medical service to the citizens of Texas. This year the Texas Department of State Health Services elected to give the award to PCHD EMS Paramedics Jordan Tolliver, Zachary Richmond, Zach Harmon and Melinda Lane for their critical role in saving the life of a patient involved in a severe traffic accident.

“This recognition at the Texas EMS Conference is well-deserved,” EMS Director Jim Backus said. “These four remarkable individuals set a textbook example of how to deliver critical care in the field. We are grateful for their exceptional service to our community.”

The patient was a driver of a tractor-trailer rig who collided with another semi at a high rate of speed in the eastbound lane on Interstate 20 in west Parker County on Feb. 14 . Paramedics Harmon and Richmond, from the PCHD Brock Unit, were the first to arrive at the scene. There was severe damage to the truck of the rear tractor-trailer which was crushed on impact. The driver was pinned inside the heavily damaged cab. The patient was unconscious, pale and sweating heavily. His left leg had been amputated in the crash and he was losing a large amount of blood.

The two paramedics reached through a hole in the wreckage and were able to open the patient’s airway. In addition, they were able to place an iGel, an emergency airway device, into the patient’s airway. Due to the severity of the patient’s injuries and large amount of blood loss, the patient needed to be quickly removed from the vehicle. First responders from the Brock-Dennis and Greenwood fire departments were on site and helped oversee the difficult extrication of the patient. The combined crews acted swiftly and pulled the cab apart by using a tow rope tied to the bumper of an ambulance.

Once in the ambulance, the patient was intubated by the crew. Tourniquets were placed on the severed extremity to stop the bleeding, and the patient was administered TXA, which is a medication used to slow down the breakdown of blood clots. Paramedics Tolliver and Lane soon arrived on the scene in two specially equipped EMS SUVs. They used their advanced skills to give blood which is carried on these special units. When they noticed that the patient’s respiratory drive was failing due to severe chest wall injury, they attempted to decompress the patient’s chest with needles to relieve the built-up pressure that results from collapsed lungs. This did not provide the desired effect, so they called Medical Control Physician Skipper Bertrand, who authorized the paramedics to perform bilateral finger thoracostomies, a procedure normally reserved for patients who are in cardiac arrest that results from a traumatic injury. The pressure was successfully relieved, and the patient’s condition began to improve.

The patient was transported to Harris Fort Worth where he was treated for his injuries and spent several months in rehabilitation. He is now home, living a normal life.

This was made possible by the dedicated medical professionals who work for PCHD EMS and the advanced training that Dr. Justin Northeim and Dr. Skipper Bertrand of BEST EMS have brought to the PCHD organization.

“Thanks to several swift, proactive decisions made by our paramedics, this patient was able to receive the critical care he needed in the field — which ultimately saved his life,” said PCHD Chief Executive Officer Randy Bacus.

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