The young woman says her knee has given out. She thinks it is dislocated, but you can’t tell because you can’t even see the knee. She says she is five hundred pounds. She can’t get up on her own. One ambulance crew can’t do it. Try pulling her up by the arms and you will pull them right of their sockets. And if the sockets held, your backs wouldn’t. Also, we are on the third floor. No elevator. Tight corners in the apartment, lots of heavy furniture.
But then help is here. Now there are four of you. Throw in 10 mg of morphine and you have the start of a plan. The patient has said if you can just get her up to her feet, she may be able to hop down to the ambulance. Wishful thinking perhaps. Ever the optimist, I am. And if she can’t hobble, if you can get her to her feet, you can at least have her in a chair while you figure out your next move.
You go to old reliable to get her up. Get a board under her, strap her to the board. Sure she is hanging off both sides, but that’s what double belts are for. But first, you splint the knee. How do you splint a knee that wide. A KED — wrap it around the knee like it is a torso. Now, its time to lift. Put one person on each side, one arm under the patients arm and the other holding a hole in the board. A third person at the feet to keep the person from sliding off the board as you lift it. And you, squatting down at the head end, and with a big grunt lifting, driving your legs up, as the two on each side, pull. Leverage. You have her standing in no time, and the four of you hold her up. My leg! My leg hurts! she says. So you quickly go to Plan B. The two chairs you have placed just to the side, and you quickly unstrap her and pivot her onto the chairs, where she now rests and lets out her breath. And then you turn and look behind you and see eight family members crowded into the room – every one of them holding a digital camera or video recorder, recording your every move.
You look at them and hold your hands up? You say nothing. You think what’s with the cameras, people, seriously? Is this to make fun of your sister? Is this to sue us? I admit that while I love my job and love the people of the great city where I work, in this moment, I am profoundly disappointed in these individuals.
The other medic on the call speaks to them professionally and succinctly and they put the cameras away. I am still shaking my head.
Come on, people.
The bottom line on the call was an hour and a half scene time, and only with an assist from our first responder friends at the fire department (who had not been dispatched to this call) and a hunt for a Stokes basket large enough to fit her into and with much pushing and hauling and moving of furniture and turning tight corners and going down a narrow stairway with wobbly wooden stairs, did we finally make our way outside. The other medic ended up taking the patient in, while I attended to and transported an injured responder. I haven’t yet found out whether or not the patient’s knee was dislocated. And as far as I know, we haven’t turned up on You Tube.