Industrial hand and finger trauma response tips

I just spent four days with a group of industrial first responders. Every student had a personal or patient care experience that involved a finger amputation, hand degloving, or full arm crush injury. From our conversations, I learned some new tips and was reminded of some important tips for hand and finger trauma emergencies.

1. Ensure that all machinery is turned off and locked from being turned on before patient assessment.

2. Only return power to machines if required for extrication and with the expert guidance of a machinery operator.

3. If sending someone to search for an amputated finger, hand, or arm, make sure they know what they are seeking and how to package the body part.

4. Assess and treat the patient away from the incident area, which may be cramped, elevated, noisy, dirty, and dangerous for you, your partner, and the patient.

5. Control bleeding with well-aimed direct pressure. Don't hesistate to apply a tourniquet for severe, uncontrolled bleeding.

6. Splint the injured area to minimize movement and help with pain control.

Remember that amputated body parts should be wrapped in gauze, put in a plastic bag and placed on ice, but not in ice.

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