We all stared at the tiny package lying on the trolley bed. No words were spoken, only intense concentration as if by the very thought it would open and place itself on our patient.
We stared . . . then stared some more. I scratched my head whilst one of the crew scratched their chin. The other went to suggest something then stopped and furrowed their eyebrows.
It was a triangular bandage . . . arguably the most complicated piece of kit on an Ambulance.
Our patient – a small, old aged and unassuming man – sat on the chair holding a rather obviously distorted wrist up against his chest. As lots of frail old folk do, he’d had a fall in the street and broken an arm.
We continued to stare at the triangular bandage. None of us daring to be the first to have a go for fear that everyone else would move aside and let them do it – alone. So, the triangular bandage remained in its package. On the bed. In front of the patient. Who sat patiently. Holding his wrist.
Damn it! Where was the St John’s Ambulance Service when you needed them!
Eventually, one of the crew turned to the patient.
“um, how are things holding your wrist where it is sir? Is the pain bearable?”
“Aye, it’s not so bad thank you”
“Righto. We’ll leave it at that then. Come on then, let’s go.”
And thus it was. They went to Hospital and the triangular bandage, unsurprisingly, remained unused.
Oh dear! Someone needs to practice slings….particularly if the patient’s going to be sitting round in A&E for ages.
Go on – you know you want to – them you can impress with “shall I pop your arm in a sling, sir – it’ll keep it supported for you?”
To which your patient can reply “I wonder whether slings have changed since I did my 45 years in St John Ambulance”…and totally ruin your confidence 😉
What’s a sling
Nah, we don’t bother with triangular bandages either (except maybe for a bit of TLC!).
If they can’t support the damaged arm then I (might!) consider an improvised method and the best bit of kit you can have are some safety pins & a big nappy pin. Our two favourite improvised methods:
(1) Fingers / wrist / collar bone: Ask the casualty to slide their sleeve over their hand so that their arm & hand are fully enclosed and then pin the cuff to their shoulder. Job done!
(2) Lower arm (held across tummy): Just tuck the hem of their top up and over the arm and pin the hem to the top. Job done!
Saves all that mucking about with fancy slings…………..
Knowing my luck I’d end up using six inch nails and nailing the patient’s hand to their chest
But it’s so handy!
Here are some more ideas on how you can use it, just to confuse you some more.
I’ve got a headache just looking at them! My personal favourite will be the one where the thing remains in it’s package