I know Dr. Jaslow personally, and if I were ever caught in such a situation, I would want him there.
Rare amputations save life of man caught in machine
By JO CIAVAGLIA
Bucks County Courier Times
The following story is based on interviews Friday during a Lower Bucks Hospital debriefing with the emergency, police, medical, fire and rescue personnel who were on the scene of Thursday's emergency amputation of the arms of Walter VanDoren Jr. at Columbia Lighting Co. in Bristol The company didn't return phone calls Friday.
Dr. David Jaslow looked at the 58-year-old man with both arms crushed between a set of 2,000-pound metal rollers.
Calmly and clearly, he explained the situation to Walter VanDoren Jr. Surrounding them were nearly two dozen firefighters, engineers and plant workers furiously attempting to take apart the metal press trapping VanDoren.
More than an hour earlier, VanDoren had been pulled into the machine. Now, his heartbeat had slowed. The color had drained from his face. Rescue workers had to prod answers out of him.
Jaslow reviewed with VanDoren the available lifesaving options. There was only one: amputate both his arms.
The emergency room doctor first needed his consent to perform the surgery.
An industrial accident. Man stuck in a piece of machinery at Columbia Lighting Co. in Bristol.
The call came over the dispatch radio at the Bucks County Rescue Squad. Among those responding were Deputy Chief Scott Bahner and paramedic Jennifer Paullin-Badolato.
When they arrived at the scene, what they saw was unbelievable.
A man looked as if he had been swallowed by a machine. Both arms, nearly up to his shoulder, were pinned between two sets of rollers. The force had yanked the man 3 feet off the ground, the right side of his face smashed against a roller.
Immediately, Bahner took out his cell and called the one man he knew could help.
Jaslow, chief of emergency medical services at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, is medical director for the Bucks County Technical Rescue Squad Task Force and the Bucks County Rescue Squad.
He's considered a nationally recognized expert in emergency field surgery, though he has performed a field amputation only once before. That was 10 years ago in Washington D.C., after an out-of-control bus hit a woman, then smashed into a building, pinning both her legs. She survived.
More rescue workers and firefighters arrived, among them Matthew Haines with the America Hose, Hook and Ladder Co. He propped up the dangling VanDoren and reassured him that everything possible was being done to free him.
At first, VanDoren was conscious, his vital signs normal except for a fast heartbeat. He peppered rescue workers with questions: What's happening? What's going on?
“Get me out of here. Just get me out of here.”
Jaslow arrived at the plant and was briefed. One of the doctor's biggest questions: How much longer would it take to get the machine apart? Simply turning it off would pull VanDoren deeper into the machine.
No progress was made over 30 minutes and no one knew how much longer it would take. VanDoren's condition had started deteriorating rapidly.
The rescue workers and Jaslow all agreed a double-amputation was the only way to save his life.
At nearby Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township, the caller said the rescue squad urgently needed a field amputation kit, bandages, clamps and medications. The request traveled from the ER to the OR, where nurse manager Susan Martin and OR nurse Deb Braham started pulling together bags of equipment, including a battery-powered surgical saw.
Bristol patrolman Pete Faight arrived to pick up the equipment. The nurses — who have more than 50 years of surgery experience between them — jumped in his squad car.
Jaslow started surgery prep, as last-minute attempts to free VanDoren continued.
Once pain medication was administered, there was a 15-minute window — another challenge in what was already a challenging operation. He had little light. The area couldn't be sterilized. The space was a little wider than a telephone booth. Jaslow had to remove both arms with only access on the left side.
What worried Jaslow most was controlling the bleeding once the arms were severed.
The left arm was removed first, about 4 inches above the elbow, followed by the right arm at about the same place. Total operating time: 12 minutes.
The ambulance arrived at Frankford Hospitals' Torresdale campus in Philadelphia, where the trauma team was waiting. Police cars blocked every intersection along Route 13 to speed the trip.
The arms were later removed from the machine and taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where VanDoren was transferred. As of Friday afternoon, he remained in critical but stable condition, a hospital spokesman said. The family didn't want further information released and they declined comment.
Such field amputations are so extraordinarily rare that there's no way to drill for one. Jaslow was the only medical professional on the scene Thursday who had taken part in one before.
“Everybody was on who needed to be on that night,” said ER nurse manager William Winarski, who took the ER call.
“The stars were aligned,” added Braham.
Jo Ciavaglia can be reached at (215) 949-4181 or jciavaglia@phillyBurbs.com.
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03-04-2006, 03:33 PM #1
Technical Rescue w/ field amputation in Bristol, Pa."Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
03-04-2006, 04:02 PM #2
- Join Date
- Sep 2001
- S.E. Idaho
I hope I never have to be called to such a carnage like that. But if I do, I hope I can perform with the skill that that incident contained.
03-04-2006, 09:07 PM #3
I know the dedication and quality of paramedics, emt's, and firefighters from Medic 143's (Bucks County Rescue Squad-Bristol), Rescue 51, 52, 53, 10, 12 and this wouldn't be a call anyone would want to get but I'm sure they did the best they could with the situation.
03-04-2006, 11:55 PM #4
I think I saw a third watch where they did it with a sawzall. I personally think thats awesome
03-05-2006, 08:35 PM #5
we have only had one of these in our county ...........was mva where someone lost a leg that was severly pinned. I have seen pictures .........they did a great job under dire and confined circumstances.IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
"but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
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