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Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Pez Dispenser...Gaping Neck Wound

At around 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, we were called to an Evangelical church in the middle of a predominantly black neighborhood, for an injury/laceration. When we arrived, we knew we had a real emergency because we were being waved in by other firefighters.... acting like third base coaches in a baseball game, waving in the winning run of the decisive game in the world series (it's rare to see fellow firefighters get that excited about something). Our second indicator that we had a significant injury was the reactions of the black, Evangelical worshippers, who are already a very dramatic group of people, were now in a complete panic, strewing their bodies about the chapel, praying and chanting. Our final indicator that something was seriously wrong was the solid trail of blood, running up the steps of the church, straight down the middle of the aisle, terminating just in front of the pulpit of the church, where we saw a 30 y/o HM, drench in blood, surrounded by a pool of blood, kneeling down, and holding a drenched trauma dressing to his neck.

According to the patient's girlfriend...since the patient wasn't in a story-telling mood...this guy was attempting to commit suicide, by cutting his own neck. Normally, this is a surefire, no frills way of getting the job done, as seen in Quentin Tarantino movies, where people die quickly of lacerations to the neck while painting the room with blood spraying from their necks. Well...this guy lacked the vital knowledge that, in order to make this method of suicide work successfully, you need to make sure you cut one or both of the carotid arteries. He somehow cut everything except the carotid arteries. He cut through his trachea and esophagus, but he missed the arteries. You see,... he cut deep rather than wide. There was a lot of blood, but it was all from veins and capillaries, rather than arteries...it was oozing, rather than spraying.

If you're going to kill yourself by cutting your neck open, ALWAYS START AT THE CAROTID ARTERIES, not at the front of your Adam's Apple (find your carotid arteries by touching two fingers to your neck, just to the sides of your trachea, until you feel the pulsating arteries). The chances are, if you start at your Adam's Apple, you'll give up before you get to your carotid arteries, due to pain, blood loss, difficulties breathing, blood aspiration, or general discomfort. Also, ALWAYS USE THE SHARPEST KNIFE AVAILABLE. Maybe this guy was using some sort of butter knife or similarly inferior blade, and he ended up having to saw his neck open, rather than gently slicing his neck open. I would recommend using a Wustof bread-cutting knife; it's long, sharp, and it's serrated, which would help get through some of those tough (cartilage-y) spots. I don't know what made this guy stop sawing open his own neck before getting to his carotid arteries...he wasn't in a story-telling mood...but just before he carved open his carotid arteries, he suddenly acquired the will to live.

He got in the car with his girlfriend, and she drove him to the nearest Evangelical church, of course. They were in the middle of singing praises to the lord, speaking in tongues, and rolling on the ground, overcome with the Holy Ghost, when this guy came staggering up the aisle, holding his gaping neck wound with two hands (the international sign for 'I just sawed my neck open'), and leaving a trail of blood on the carpet.

We removed the trauma dressing to take a look (partly for business reasons, partly for entertainment reasons), and we quickly re-applied the trauma dressing, when we saw that his neck had become a horror film, and it was still generously disseminating blood. We threw the guy onto the stretcher and quickly hauled him to the nearest Level 1 trauma facility.

While enroute, the patient kept losing consciousness, and every time he would lose consciousness, he would allow his head to fall backwards, which would expose the MASSIVE wound in the guy's neck, making him look like a giant Pez Dispenser. It was interesting that whenever his head was forward, he would breath through his mouth, but when his head fell backward, he would breath through his neck-hole. Breathing was not exactly easy, since blood was running down his trachea, into his lungs, causing him to gurgle on blood and occasionally cough up the blood (sort of...through his new mouth in his neck).

When we got to the hospital, he was taken straight to the operating room. The patient was almost completely unconscious at this point, and the doctors had applied a topical anesthetic. For the first time, I actually felt a little nauseous, when the doctors started probing his massive neck hole with their whole hands...almost like a little kid would crudely pull open a half-broken pinata to see if there's any candy left inside.

Overall, the patient was in pretty good condition, and the doctors thought they could put this dude's neck back together again. This was probably the most ambitious, failed suicide attempt I had ever seen.

Possibly the Saddest Call I've Ever Made (5/17/2007, 19:09)

Possibly the Saddest Call I've Ever Made (5/17/2007, 19:09)
Tire Change, Jack Failed, Family Man Died

Chevy HHR Flipped...They Do That Sometimes (5/17/2007, 2:40 a.m.)

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Minor cuts and abrasions

White Trans Am Vs. Metro Bus (5/9/2007, 17:05)

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Metro--1; Trans Am--0

Suicide Cocktail (4/17/2007, 19:25)

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Another botched attempt.

Jeep Take-Home Test-Drive (4/15/2007, 14:04)

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It Failed!