Trauma Drama – Rules for Life

Life trauma rules derived from a resuscitationist's observations.
  1. Motorcycles are the devil. If you value life, never ever ride a motorcycle. Period. Most motorcycle accidents injure their riders much more severely than those same accidents would have injured the drivers of cars or trucks. A simple “fender bender” for a car can kill the motorcyclist. They are called “donor-cycles” for a reason.
  2. Wear a helmet. If you choose to violate Rule 1, then at least wear a helmet. And not one of those half-shell, padless non-protective, stylish helmets. In fact, no matter what you are doing, always wear a helmet – on a bike, on an ATV, rock climbing, etc. And make your kids wear helmets…please, I beg you, for their sakes and our sake. Please, just wear a helmet.
  3. Ride aggressively/defensively. Also, if you violate Rule 1, ride your motorcycle as if everyone on the road is drunk and stupid. Because they are.
  4. Seatbelts! Always wear a seat belt, every time, all the time. If you are driving/riding in a car, wear a seat belt. If you are just driving around the corner, wear a seat belt. Getting ejected through the front windshield or tossed around the inside of your vehicle is not an ideal way to spend the last few moments of life. Working as an EMT before medical school, I found too many crumpled, lifeless bodies in heaps a remote, nearly unbelievable distance from their vehicles – unfortunate deaths easily remedied with a seat belt.
  5. Look both ways. Always look both ways before crossing the street – a phrase we teach our kiddos repeatedly, but often adults forget this axiom in the hurriedness of life. Don’t just assume you have the right of way. And who cares if you had the right of way if you are dead.
  6. Don’t be a gangster. So many young, healthy men – many teenagers – enter the trauma bay either dead, or dying after gang wars or revenge shootings. Also, there is often collateral damage – children, adults, the innocent. So many young lives snuffed out by ego, pride, nonsense, idiocy.
  7. Stop texting! At least while driving, or when walking through a parking garage at night, or when walking across a street (see Rule 5). You have zero situational awareness when your face is buried in texts or facebook or instagram. Save that for the sofa.
  8. Don’t drink and drive. Please…stop drinking and driving. Just Uber and figure out your transportation tomorrow. It still blows my mind how many traumas on Friday and Saturday nights are related to drinking and driving. And if you are drinking, don’t ride a motorcycle (see Rule 1), and if you violate Rule 1 and Rule 8, and least don’t violate Rule 2 simultaneously. In one night, I treated two motorcyclists who were drinking and driving, and both might have been ok with only a few fractures and road rash, if they had not also violated Rule 2. But they will never again be the same – both nose dived into a curb. Luckily they lived…or unluckily.
  9. Peer/beer pressure. If you happen to find yourself in a vehicle who’s driver is drunk or imitating NASCAR, exit the vehicle as soon as is safely possible, even if it pisses off your friends. Too many innocent passengers die because they were too afraid to voice their concerns due to peer or beer pressure. Just Uber.
  10. Tourniquets/training. Contrary to former popular beliefs, tourniquets save lives. If you are traumatically injured and hemorrhaging from an extremity, hold direct pressure first then apply a tourniquet proximally to stop the bleed. If you don’t have a tourniquet, consider adding one or two to your vehicle medical kit. If you don’t have a vehicle medical kit, consider buying one. If you don’t know how to use anything medical, consider pursuing some sort of layman trauma/medical training. Basic Life Support is a starter medical course. Tactical Combat Casualty Care is an excellent basic field trauma training course that is available to military and law enforcement, and also offered by many civilian private training companies. This training is often like an insurance policy – “better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” Or, “if you need it and don’t have it, you likely will not be needing it again.”

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