Last week I had a patient who fell from her horse while jumping at a show. When I got there the BLS crew had immobilized her and, well, that was about it. She was complaining of neck pain and at that moment couldn't remember what had happened. I used my horsey knowledge to build up a healthy rapport with a scared patient. In general, not a lot was wrong with her. My biggest problem was that she was on the backboard and still had on all of her fancy English riding clothes. I made my best efforts to get off her button up shirt with high collar and black outer riding jacket, but it caused her pain, and then I made it worse. Worse than falling off your horse, worse than the public embarrasment of having an ambulance called for you, worse than defenitly losing your show class, was the stupid paramedic who cut off your expensive riding clothes.
I, too, had never felt worse for cutting someones clothes off. She cried and shrieked and you would have thought I was punching her in the gut. I used to ride and I know how expensive and sacred riding clothes can be. Nothing brought her solace.
"It's a great excuse to get new clothes." I offered, looking to the eagar father.
"I just got these yesterday!" she lamented back.
Oh I felt bad.
Only when cutting leather pants off of a burly motorcycle rider did the process of becoming "trauma naked" yeild such heartache.
Conversely, I recently had a call for a stabbing. If you want to see police, firemen, EMTs, paramedics, old people, kids on bikes, press, marching band leaders, and various other random people come out of the literal woodwork of a smallish town just put the words "stabbing" and the phrase "intestines coming out" over the airwaves and see what happens.
It's hard to supress the rush of adrenaline that shows itself as one skips toward the medic unit while heading to a call like this.
We arrived in a most dramatic fashion along with police and ambulances, to find the guy in his house smoking a cigarette, and we all immedaitely stood down, so to speak. Then as he went to leave he fainted which certainly piqued our interest.
We got him in the ambo, and I immediatly spiked a bag and went to cutting his clothes off. It was already too late when he began complaining about the loss of his best sweatshirt. As opposed to the horse girl, my sympathy waned. Then I felt bad for not feeling bad. What I did cut off revealed a sizely laceration, but the stabbing was more of a cutting that, lucky for him, did not actually expose his intestines.
He had a bit of an attitude for someone in distress and nearly insisted that he not to to the trauma center as he kept touching his laceration. We got him sorted out and sent him to the trauma center anyway.
I got my picture on the local newspapers' website:
A few years ago, my friend got the wise idea to put ambulance patients in gowns. This was a radical idea that was met with much, well I think it was largely ignored, but if it's going to happen anyway, why not get a head start? Maybe one day it will catch on.
The moral of the story is, if you can, take beloved clothing off before I arrive with my trauma shears unsheathed and at the ready like a charging warrior. If you can't get them off, remember that your life is more important than pieces of cotton strategically sewn together.