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.