In every technical rescue class I teach, I pose the same question to the class…Outside of actually getting to the call, what is the single most important operation you're going to perform? Generally it gets pretty quiet in the classroom while everyone racks his or her mind trying to figure it out. The Answer: Patient Packaging.
You can be the best driver in the department getting your crew there safely and in a timely manner. You could be the best rigger, or trench boss, or shoring-operation leader. However, if you go through all the hard work of rigging a rope operation, shoring a trench or building etc., but then skimp on your patient packaging (or improperly package a patient) you're not performing the duties you were called there to do. There's a simple rule I like to adhere to and teach in my classes. "Do it once…do it right." Your total operation was a waste of time if in the end you further injure or kill your patient because of improper packaging.
In this article, we'll look at several methods you can use to successfully and properly package a patient. To be successful, all it takes is a little practice.
I guess you can say the first rule in patient packaging is realizing and identifying the victim's injuries. Do a quick scan of the patient. Look, listen and feel, and if the patient is conscious, simply ask them what happen and what hurts. I want to quickly point out that when dealing with a conscious patient, your ability to calm them can go a long way. Excitement and panic in patients can cause a host of problems, such as hyperventilation, rapid heart rate (which will increase bleeding if there are lacerations) and combativeness. By playing the role of rescuer/psychologist, you can relax your patient and, in turn, help stabilize their injuries and overall increase the safety in your operation.
One rule I like to follow is no matter how bad the injury or situation it's always going to be all right. It's our job to worry, not the patient's. Now don't get me wrong, they're going to worry, but could you imagine if you (the rescuer) were panicking and yelling? Your patient's fear and anxiety would really skyrocket. So, just remember never lead on to the severity of a situation. Just make the rescue happen and make the patient will think it's a walk in the park.
Now, let's look at a few different means of packaging a patient. Before choosing your equipment, you need to look at a few things.
- Patient Access
- Patient's Injuries
- Decide whether this is going to be a vertical or horizontal evacuation
- Decide what will be the simplest and quickest