Crush Injuries

4 things EMS providers must know about crush syndrome

There have been no shortage of catastrophic natural disasters of late, so it is a good time to review crush syndrome and the basic treatment that EMS providers need to know. While it is a relatively rare occurrence, crush syndrome is something that you may one day encounter. It can be expected following any event where patients are trapped for a length of time, especially following a natural or man-made disaster.

Providing care in a timely manner, and before extrication or removal of the compressing force, can be the difference between life and death. Regardless of whether you’re an EMS provider in an urban or rural setting, caring for a patient with crush syndrome could well be your next call.

A teen is carried on a stretcher after being rescued by Nepalese policemen and U.S. rescue workers from a building that collapsed during the Nepal 2015 earthquake.
A teen is

Crush injuries can be deceptively dangerous

The injuries don’t appear life-threatening. They could be wounded legs and arms, caused by being pinned under falling debris from the earthquake.

But for some in Haiti, who are pulled out alive from the rubble, another medical emergency awaits them. Days later these crush injuries can cause kidney failure then death, experts say.

Kidney failure has been identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the most urgent public health concerns in Haiti following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

“If head injuries are the hallmark of the war in Afghanistan, the Haiti earthquake will be known for crush injuries,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent reporting from Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

The condition, known as rhabdomyolysis, occurs when muscles have been crushed.

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