We have all been on these calls before. 67 yr old grandmother fell and broke her hip in the kitchen. 38 yr old father fell from the roof shingling the garage. 28 yr old female 7 months pregnant experiencing severe cramping and pain.
It doesn’t matter the gender, age, race or religion. We rush to the scene to render the best aid we can give to the patient. Our crew will rush into the house. Lights and sirens blaring. We jump out of our rigs grabbing medic bags, backboards, Oxygen tanks, cots and anything else we would need. Our small army of rescuers swarm into the house or around the yard surrounding the patient. Life saving care is rendered as we take vitals, apply oxygen, bandage & splint, backboard & c-collar, start CPR, insert airways and IV’s. We do everything we can to help the patient.
Afterwards we pack up all our supplies, clean up any messes and file back into our trucks. We may backslap and give hi fives for a job well done, or remain silent if the outcome didn’t go favorably. Back at the station we will talk about what went right, what didn’t and then file the run away and await the next one.
But it is the calls like this (really almost every call that we go on) that there is a forgotten victim. Do you know who that is? Did you check the scene carefully? Sure we do a scene size-up. We scan the area for any other patients. If the MOI is an MVA we do a 360 and check the surrounding areas. But even with all the due diligence we still manage to not see some of the victims that are right in front of us.
It is the little child who watches helplessly as their parent yells in pain from a broken bone. It is the elderly who sits helplessly as their soul mate for 50 plus years is lying unresponsive on the floor while a group of strangers pump frantically trying to save them. It is the newlywed husband who watches his wife miscarriage with their first baby.
We are so focused on the primary patient that many times forget about the other family members around. While they may not have any physical or medical scars, problems or issues they are still victims. We are used to being in high stress situations and have the training to know what to do. These others are thrust unwillingly into it and maybe for the first time in their life have to figure out how to cope with the situation.
So what can we do as the fire service? Obviously we need to focus most of our attention on the injured person and provide the appropriate treatment and care. But we need to be aware and recognize that there are others there on the scene. Children especially need to have some attention provided to them. If there is an extra person have them take the child outside. Show them the truck or give them a small stuffed animal. Talk to them and help them understand that we are there to help.
Just imagine how frightening it is to a child (and even adults) to have a bunch of strangers rush into your home with all kinds of strange looking equipment and start cutting and tearing off clothes, hooking up monitors and crowding around the patient.
The adults are just as important too. Many people will not know what to do in situations like this. They may need help contacting clergy or other family members. We may need to request additional services for them also such as hospice, Red Cross, support groups, ect. We may just need to be with them to provide a shoulder to lean on.
So the next time you are out on a call. Take an extra second or two to remember to check for any forgotten victims. The time spent with them may just end up being the most rewarding moments of your day.