Extrication for the EMT?
David Pease, Carolina Fire/Rescue/EMS Journal
I hope everyone’s summer went well. You know we tend to do less training in the summer, due to the heat, vacations and other family things. Now that fall and winter are here, our training will probably pick up some, as it should. Of course, when you read this, we will be into or finishing the holidays and the winter months will be upon us. You want to be prepared for the season as vehicle crashes tend to pick up during this time. We see more increment weather along with the increase of intoxicated drivers. You need to be safe out there as well.
I have taught EMT and paramedic classes for quite awhile. Now I am taking an EMT refresher class, because I got busy and let my CE hours slip up on me. The ironic thing is, our lead Instructor was a student in a class I helped teach a while back. The Instructor has now become the student, and the student the Instructor. Although even as an Instructor, I am always learning from my students. Oh, and by the way, my EMT Instructor is actually doing a pretty good job, which says a lot coming from an old critical rascal like myself.
When I was teaching EMT some years back, we dedicated an entire day to vehicle extrication. I also did a 12 hour block in the paramedic curriculum on vehicle extrication. But now, over the past few years, this has pretty much been removed from the course outline. I do realize that some schools and Instructors still teach some of this, but it is not really required any longer. My question is, should it be? My personal feelings on this matter, yes it should. Now, I am going to explain to you why I think so.
When we take our EMT class we spend an entire chapter on the human body along with terminology. When we are certified and begin working in the field, we use only a small portion of what we learned. However, it gives us the ground work for a lot of the assessments and treatments that we perform. So having this background knowledge is essential in what we do as an EMT. As an EMT, you will perform lifesaving functions at vehicle crash scenes and assess many patients over your career. Having some basic extrication knowledge will make you better at this and help you make better decisions at the scene. Most importantly, it will help you work better with the team performing the extrication and have a better understanding of what they are doing and why.
First, the EMT needs to understand the basic types of crashes and the anatomy of a vehicle. Understanding how a vehicle is constructed and especially newer vehicles, could help save your life and prevent injury to the rescuers, or further injury to your patient. With new technologies of today, we are dealing with a multitude of airbags in a single vehicle and they all do not deploy utilizing power from the battery system. We also have seatbelt pre-tensioners that can utilize pyrotechnic devices. Having a better knowledge of this could help you and your patient.