The heat from outside hit me like a sack of door knobs as I exited the comfort of our cozy air conditioned ambulance. It was around 115 degrees and windy but the wind felt more like a blow drier on full blast bombarding my face. I was called to a construction site for an accident.
I began searching through the workers at the building site and it wasn’t long before I found my guy. He had been cut by “something” according to bystanders. (I later found out “something” was a power saw)He had no other injuries. He was pale and another worker was holding the patients arm up in the air to help stop the bleeding. I assisted him out of all chaos and heat into the calm quite ambulance for further evaluation.
After removing the bloody napkin that his friends had used as a bandage I found my first surprise. There was only a bloody stump where his thumb should have been. Pointing out the obvious, I exclaimed “where is this guys thumb?” which was quickly translated into Arabic by my partner. No one was quite sure but all fingers seemed to be pointing in the same general area on the ground some distance away. I ordered his team of co workers out on a special mission. A treasure hunt they would soon not forget. Arm to arm, sifting through the sand searching for a body part. It was not long before one of them was holding my prize up in the air. Ding Ding Ding We have a winner! I thought to myself.
The severed thumb was quickly presented to me moments later. I was now holding it and examining it like gemologist might examine a diamond. It was in pristine condition, almost like it had been surgically removed. I stood there and conitnued examining my precious prize probably longer than I needed to. I thanked my treasuring hunting friend for recovering it and got back to work. Due to the type of cut, time that we recovered the amputated part, and follow up care we gave there is a very good chance that the thumb could be reattached.
I managed to start an IV on the patient and gave him a hefty dose of IV morphine which he was very grateful for. The guy who was hating life and just had his thumb amputated was now smiling thanks to morphine. I love giving morphine to people who really deserve it because you become there new best friend. Anyway, The bleeding had been controlled at this point so I just placed a large bandage over the stump to protect it from infection and also so the patient did not have to look at it. I put the severed thumb in a special sterile bandage and placed it in a container on Ice.
We rushed him and his severed digit to the hospital. Upon our arrival to the emergency department I was giving my hand over report but the pushy triage nurse was not listening much and for some odd reason decided to open the container, “what’s in here?” She said as she started sifting through it, “This guys amputated thumb” I replied. She let out a scream and jumped back then starting yelling at me. I guess she learned patience is a important virtue to have. I gave her thumbs up on the way out the door but I don’t think she appreciated my humor.