posted on May, 31 2011 @ 01:47 PM
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this thread is not intended to replace advice from your family medical physician. It is intended to be
used in a true worst case scenario, and should only be attempted when medical care is not available, and then only under the supervision of a trained
professional (ie: EMT, Paramedic, RN, etc.).
I commonly browse threads in this forum relating to weaponry, food, shelter, but have yet to see any truly comprehensive discussion of emergency and
survival medicine. Before continuing, please read the disclaimer and understand that some of the topics discussed in this series are advanced level
medical procedures, and should be treated as such. Reading this topic will NOT make you proficient in their practice, and it is suggested that you
take an advanced first aid class or EMT class. As with anything, practice fosters proficiency. In any case, please use this information
During an emergency (see, complete SHTF/breakdown of society), you will likely encounter a wide variety of injuries ranging from simple sprains and
cuts to complex fractures and trauma. A number of these conditions will requirement immediate intervention to correct and reduce overall morbidity. In
this series, I will address numerous conditions and their proper treatment.
After reading this, if you think I've left anything out, please feel free to add it to the thread. I will then gladly ad d it to this post. Thanks!
Now, lets get started! Today, we will be focusing on treating an injury known as the Tension Pneumothorax.
A pneuomothorax is a true medical emergency that should be expected during any type of mass-disaster. If left untreated, this condition will
result in death, as patients are incapable of tolerating this injury for more than a day or two.
According to Medscape, a tension pneumothorax is defined as "a life-threatening condition that develops when air is trapped in the pleural
cavity under positive pressure, displacing mediastinal structures and compromising cardiopulmonary function." The result is a collapse of the lung on
the affected side, and decrease in cardiac function. This simply means that in the space between your lung and chest wall, there is an accumulation of
air which is preventing the lung from fully inflating and is placing pressure on the portion of your body containing the heart. This air may enter by
several different routes, but we will be focusing on air that enters the chest wall through a traumatic injury (such as a stab wound, or injury to the
While there are numerous tests required for an in-hospital diagnosis of this condition (CT scan, ultrasound, etc), a field diagnosis can be made when
the patient has recieved a traumatic chest injury AND:
1) The patient exhibits signs of severe hypoxia (cyanosis-gray or bluish color to the skin and lips, low oxygen saturation levels shown with the use
of a pulse oximeter-can be purchased for $30-$50) despite the administration of supplemental oxygen (should be a medication on everyone's survival
2) The patient has a rapidly deteriorating blood pressure (hypotension-general defined as a blood pressure lower than 100/systolic).
3) They exhibit signs of confusion.
While the treatment is an invasive proceedure, it is routinely peformed by emergency medical personnel in a pre-hospital setting. With a working
knowledge of human anatomy, and basic medical skills, you will be able to perform a life-saving intervention known as an emergency thoracic
decompression or needle thoracostomy.
1) On the injured side of the chest, locate the space between the second and third rib (known as the second intercostal space) and insert a 14-gauge
IV catheter (can be purchased for