Rare field amputation: detailed report and 6 lessons learned

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Paramedics and firefighters called a trauma surgical team to a cold, slippery mountain pass on the morning of January 19, 2017 to amputate the leg of driver trapped in the sleeper-cab of his truck. The lifesaving field amputation was a first for all involved, a rarity in prehospital care in the United States and has received intense interest from other rescuers.

The field surgical team consisted of trauma surgeons Marcus Torgenson, MD, FACS and Edward deTar, MD, FACS, anesthesiologist David Wineinger, MD, and OR nurse manager Carmen Sincerbeaux, RN, BSN, MA. Together with paramedics Christopher Way and Steve Isaacson, the team wrote a detailed report of the incident for EMS1.com. Their report describes their actions to save the life of a trapped truck driver, and it provides the lessons they want to share about this once-in-a-career incident.

First response and size-up

Units from Shoshone County (Idaho) Fire District #2, under the command of Chief Mark Aamodt, responded to a multi-vehicle accident with injuries involving several semi-trucks. Upon arrival, the responders realized the significance of their situation.

The incident happened just east of the 4th of July Pass in the west bound lanes of Interstate 90 near the Rose Lake interchange and on the Shoshone/Kootenai County line. There were multiple vehicles, mostly semi-tractor trailers, involved and the incident stretched over half a mile of the interstate.

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Difficult extrication of trapped driver

The focus of rescuers became extricating the driver who was trapped in the sleeper cab of his semi-truck. The accident is still under investigation; it is still unclear what caused the patient’s rig to hit the back of a log truck carrying between 80,000 and 100,000 pounds of logs, but the impact forced the load of logs through the front cab of the truck, pushing the patient still in the driver’s seat to the back wall of the sleeper cab. Both of his legs were trapped under the dash board and weight of the logs that were resting on top.

Read the Full Story on EMS1.com: Field amputation difference between life and death