A Paramedics Tale……

The more obvious discomforts delivered by obesity are clear for all to see as we go about our daily lives. Things such as people unable to sit comfortably on chairs made for more normal size people, the need for larger clothing which is often in scarce supply or the difficulty of getting in and out of cars or being able to drive cars safely to name a few. These things are more visible to the laymen and perhaps are things that we have rightly or wrongly come to accept in our society today.

When discussing these unfortunate circumstances with a paramedic friend it seemed that there is a whole new world of discomforts that obese people expose themselves to that the general public would have little idea of. My friend went on to recollect an emergency call that she had attended where an obese person was involved in a domestic accident that she had been called to.

“Upon arriving at the scene and finding little signs of life from the patient……

the utmost priority is finding a pulse, there is trouble from the outset as locating a pulse through the  extra layers of fat is a hard ship in itself. After finding a pulse and carrying out some more initial examinations we established that this particular patient was in need of an intravenous drip,  not quite as straight forward to administer on a person of this size, the veins are often hidden by the excess fat and therefore the most common place to insert the needle is in or around the thumb in a very small vein which delivers another hurdle in that the needle used must be smaller and therefore the flow of intended medicine can not enter the patients system as fast as is ideal. Once we had brought the patient to a stable state the next priority was to get them to the Hospital. Again something that is often quite simple with the 2 paramedics on the scene, however due to the size of our patient we had to wait for further assistance to move the patient. Once the assistance arrived it soon became very clear that the exit route we would normally use to vacate the patients property (their front door) would not be passable anymore, no option but to call the fire crews to carry out some structural changes on the patients house. Nearly at the end of our ordeal or so the patient thought and we had to break the news that actually we would have to travel to a hospital that was a further 20 minutes away due to the local hospital not being able to treat someone of this size.”
Shocked? Surprised? Horrified? Or all three and more? What a great account on the number of external physical factors which inhibited this particular patient from getting the help they needed in the shortest time frame possible which potentially threatened the life of the individual. The information that I didn’t hear from my paramedic friend which could have added insult to injury was the extent to which the patients obesity affected the treatment at the hospital.
As I have done on many occasions I would really like to reiterate the potential dangers obesity opens us up to through this story. This patient could have lost their life solely on the fact that the paramedic could not get enough medication through the intravenous drip in time, let alone having to call the fire services to rescue the patient from their own home.
Obesity is a killer on so many levels but how terribly sad when the patient is in a state where not even professional help can be administered quick enough to save a life.

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