Stiff little fingers

Hands are amazing, each one made up of 5 fingers. We use them for everything. Every child learns to count on them. Countless wars have been fraught with them (whether firing arrows or pulling triggers). A music genre was borne from them (Google Tommy Iommi and heavy metal). It’s difficult to imagine life without them…..

Saturday night, once again we had been pulled into the big city. The call came half way through clubbing time. A young person had fallen over in a night club and their hand had landed on a broken glass on the club’s floor. Rather quickly, they realised their hand was bleeding and the top half of their fourth finger was no longer present. It was a perfect cut, through the bone too. When we arrived, the club staff had removed the, mildly drunk, patient and her friends from the club. This was common practice, partly so the revellers weren’t distracted by an ambulance crew in the club. There also seemed to be some belief that the club was no longer liable for the injury too, but we had no interest in the legalities.

Unfortunately the club staff in this instance made things slightly worse. a. They removed the patient from the scene of the accident so we weren’t entirely sure what had severed the finger (the police also had something to say to the staff regarding this). And b. The staff put the rather grubby finger into a glass of ice which they quickly handed to us as they, unsuccessfully, tried to hurry us away. Unfortunately for the patient this rendered the finger useless und unable to be reattached. Thankfully, after much wailing from the patient on the way to A&E, it was a doctor who broke the bad news….once we’d gone.

A 3 year old, in a posh suburb, Sunday afternoon. The poor child had caught their finger in a door, removing the top third. The parents had, sensibly, put the finger in a freezer bag, then in a cup of ice. It was a busy afternoon for us in our own area, lots of genuinely unwell people. This job was out of our area and took us some time to get too. It was also not classed as a life threatening emergency so we arrived without lights and sirens. This seemed to bother the parents, how could their angel not merit an emergency response?! Then began the complaints about the 3 hours they had waited since their first call. I looked at the peaceful but slightly distressed child, and thought about the severe, life threatening, seizure I had just come from. I said nothing. We loaded the patient and one parent in the Ambulance. Then the other parent announced that they’d follow us in their executive 4×4, asking if we’d be rushing them in. After a deep breath, and some thought about how best to respond, I said we’d not be rushing and asked why they had not driven their child to hospital themselves. “But that’s why we pay for ambulances!” was the horrified reply.

A severed finger will rarely merit an emergency response. I say that because there are factors such as blood thinners, and what caused the finger to be severed. In most cases, if the severed part is kept clean and dry and the wound too, and it is within an acceptable time scale, the finger can be reattached. But situations aren’t always that perfect.

I believe the nightclub was investigated and did not come away unscathed. The 3 year old’s parents probably still blame everyone but themselves. I still count myself blessed to have kept all of my fingers…this far.

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