Through innovative and decisive action, Prince William County Fire & Rescue Medic Unit 514 members Lieutenant Walter Hunt, Technician II David Thomas and Technician II Samuel Kaye saved the life of a woman shot in the face with a 12-guage shotgun at point-blank range.
The three rescue workers arrived to find the victim conscious, writhing violently and moaning. A helicopter was immediately requested and the patient rushed via stretcher to Medic Unit 514 for transport to the landing site.
Traditional stabilization techniques could not be used due to a lack of jaw and cheek structures. The two technicians improvised, developing makeshift cervical spin stabilization and tilting the patient to a downward 45 degree angle to maintain an unobstructed airway. They also utilized aggressive suctioning and fashioned a blow-by-oxygen delivery system out of a nasal cannula with a pair of trauma shears and tape. These out-of-the-box techniques kept the patient's blood oxygen saturation level at 100% throughout her emergency care.
Bleeding control was accomplished with dressings and direct pressure, with attention given to the possibility of skull fracture. When the first of two IV lines was compromised due to the patient's flailing, the technicians thought quickly, effectively restrained the victim and re-established the line. By administering IV fluids to compensate for blood loss, the technicians maintained a safe systolic blood pressure.
With the patient's vital signs stabilized, the crew began dressing the wounds to prepare the patient for helicopter transport. Their primary concern was to prevent infection and keep debris from the helicopter's rotor wash away from the injury.
All of this was accomplished in a moving emergency vehicle.
Finally, before transferring the patient to the flight crew, the medics assisted in establishing an artificial advanced airway by means of an emergency surgical procedure. The Fairfax trauma center later reported that due to the actions taken by these paramedics, the patient is expected to make a full recovery.
For their ability to adapt medical techniques and remain professional in an extreme trauma situation, saving the life of a gunshot victim, Prince William County Fire and Rescue Lieutenant Walter Hunt, Technician II David Thomas and Technician II Samuel Kaye receive the Bronze Medal for Valor.
*The Bronze Medal is awarded in situations where, during the course of an emergency, a public safety official demonstrates extraordinary judgment, ingenuity or performance of his/her duties. May include saving a life that is threatened by medical or physical reasons.