Best after-crash care in the world?
July 22, 2007 3:54 AM   Subscribe

After Lewis Hamilton crashed in yesterday's qualifying session for the European Grand Prix, he was carried into an ambulance with a neck brace and oxygen mask on, and attached to a clear drip bag. But it has since been announced that he is uninjured. So why would you give a drip to someone who has managed to keep his full complement of blood in the right places?

Presumably he was receiving the best after-crash care in the world. Is this standard best treatment for shock? Was it done because there seemed to be internal injuries? Was there anything special in what appeared to be saline?
posted by Idcoytco to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The saline drip is likely a preventative measure that would help stabilize him for a closer look by emergency room staff. If he was in shock from internal injuries or a blow to the head, a saline drip would help counter the resulting blood pressure drop (low blood pressure can be life threatening).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:12 AM on July 22, 2007

Best answer: It's a standard treatment when there has been a significant 'assault' --- big crash, high fall, high speed. It's standard protocol in any number of other significant situations, depending whether it's ambulance or doctors that are the first treaters.

At the scene, everything is a bit chaotic and it's often difficult to tell if someone has sustained fractures or ruptured organs. The injured person may not even realise what body part they have injured. After time has passed and internal bleeding becomes more obvious, the injured person is probably in shock and one of the body's defense mechanisms will be to relatively shut down blood in the extremities.

So it will be much much more difficult to find a vein to get an IV line in later. It may just be plain old 0.09% saline which is dripped through to ensure that the line remains patent, but if the injured person's situation deteriorates, they have the ability to give drugs or fluids to boost their blood pressure. Access (IV line) is close to the top of the most important considerations in any health emergency, from heart attack to car crash.
posted by peacay at 4:14 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

F1-Live reports that "..Hamilton nearly fainted before a drip, oxygen mask and surgical neck collar were attached to him.."

Honestly, I imagine that this is done after nearly every wreck of this magnitude. On the track it is hard to know exactly what is going on with the driver. Sometimes it is impossible to know what is going on until they get scans. There was a wreck at Ostereichring where Mark Donahue initially appeared fine sitting on the bank, even helping the medics by holding up his own saline drip, come to find he was fatally injured.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 4:16 AM on July 22, 2007

Just a guess, but wouldn't an F1 driver be somewhat dehydrated as a matter of course?
posted by pompomtom at 4:24 AM on July 22, 2007

This article in the Sunday Express says the saline was to counter shock.

I don't know if you saw the actual crash, but it seemed to be a pretty significant impact. When the right front wheel blew up, he lost control of the car and was into the barrier very quickly. In addition, he went slightly airborne and the gravel was unable to slow him down as much it should have. After he hit, you could see him furiously pumping his legs, as if he was doing a quick damage assessment.

On a related note, NASCAR has a policy that if a driver can't get his car back to the pits after a wreck that they get a mandatory ride in the ambulance to the infield care center.

Also, I am taping the race right now, please don't spoil the ending until later in the day. Deal?
posted by sciatica at 5:53 AM on July 22, 2007

Best answer: As for the neck brace, after a car crash, one of the biggest risks for the victim is traumatic spinal injury, which can occur without the victim being aware of it. I once heard an EMT tell a story about a car accident victim who was getting up and walking around when they turned their head suddenly, and an injured vertebra severed their spinal cord. So one priority in that situation—and any other where massive trauma to the spine is possible—is to stabilize the victim's head and neck. That's what those funky surfboard-looking things with the pads at one end that you see at the pool are for—they're backboards, for securing people who dive into the bottom of the pool or whatever.
posted by silby at 6:10 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Some thing similar to silby's story happened to a friend of mine; he was in a car crash at speed, (ended up in the boot), went home, complained of a very sore neck, went to hospital and he'd broken his neck. The doc said he could quite easily have killed himself just by turning his head sharply/bumping into something.
posted by biffa at 8:16 AM on July 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. I have "best"-ed peacay and silby (for an important reminder, if not actually an answer to the question) but thanks also to the rest of you for rounding out the info.

If you didn't watch the race, you definitely want to watch the replay.
posted by Idcoytco at 8:57 AM on July 22, 2007

« Older Does the mafia still exist in chicago?   |   Things to do in Kampala, Uganda Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.