How to rescue a fallen worker

Falls are the third most common cause of spinal cord injury (SCI).  Many happen on the job.  In this case, the work site fall occurs in a remote wilderness location.

The employer has no emergency plan in place.  Hours pass before rescuers arrive.   The injured worker has been lying on the cold dirt and rocks with his co-workers trying to comfort him.  Fortunately they do not try to move him.

The first thing rescuers do is to perform a neurologic evaluation.  The patient has good CMS (circulation, motion and sensation) to his arms and hands.  However, there is no spontaneous movement or sensation in his legs. His blood pressure is dangerously low so he is treated with IV normal saline.  His cervical spine is placed in a protective rigid collar.  He is strapped onto a long back board, and secured into a Stokes litter.  Then using a rope haul system (shown above), four to six rescuers gently lower him to the bottom of the canyon to the awaiting MedStar helicopter.

When they arrived at the awaiting helicopter, the patient is transferred to a flight stretcher. In flight, he receives supplemental oxygen.  Following spinal cord injury protocol, he receives 2 Gms of IV Solu-Medrol.    To control nausea, he receiveds25 mg of Phenergan.  For pain, he receiveds100 mcg of Fentanyl.  During the flight, he receives received a total of 950 ml of IV fluids.

The medical timeline does not begin to touch upon the human story.  But it gives you an inside glimpse at the beginning of a case that became a lawsuit.

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About Karen
Karen Koehler, partner at the nationally recognized law firm of SKW, blogs about all things related to spinal cord injuries...More
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On Another's Sorrow
Can I see another's woe,
And not be in sorrow too?
Can I see another's grief,
And not seek for kind relief.

Can I see a falling tear.
And not feel my sorrows share,
Can a father see his child,
Weep, nor be with sorrow fill'd.

Can a mother sit and hear.
An infant groan an infant fear?
No no never can it be,
Never never can it be

And can he who smiles on all
Hear the wren with sorrows small
Hear the small bird's grief & care
Hear the woes that infants bear

And not sit beside the nest
Pouring pity in their breast.
And not sit the cradle near
Weeping tear on infant's tear.

And not sit both night & day.
Wiping all our tears away.
O! no never can it be.
Never, never can it be!

He doth give His joy to all:
He becomes an infant small,
He becomes a man of woe,
He doth feel the sorrow too.

Think not thou canst sigh a sigh,
And thy Maker is not by:
Think not thou canst weep a tear,
And thy Maker is not near.

O He gives to us His joy,
That our grief He may destroy:
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.


— William Blake