A few months ago , me and a paramedic responded to a serious fall incident. We were told about an little old lady in her 80s that had fallen from the top of multi-storey garage in the city. The poor lady had fallen from the top floor of the building. The height she had fallen was estimated to around 60 feet (about 20 meters) so the mechanism of injury was massive. We prepared for severe injuries and the full spectrum of prehospital interventions.
On our way out we discussed scene safety, planned the RSI, discussed drug doses, discussed spinal precautions, anticipated hypothermia and had a plan for patient packaging and triaging. Most of all, we were expecting to be stood down as there was no way an elderly patient would survive falling 60 feet.
We arrived, got our kit out of the car, introduced ourselves to the cops and made our way to the scene.
We were quite surprised when we found out there was no patient on scene.
Were we in the right place? Had she been scoop-and-runned? Yes, we were and not really… here is what had happened.
The old lady did indeed fall from the top of the garage we were standing in front of. The height estimate of 60 feet looked about right. However, incredibly, instead of landing on concrete she had bullseyed a recycling bin filled with paper, cardboard boxes and styrofoam. The bin’s lid broke some of the fall, then the paper and styrofoam took the rest. Somehow she managed to miss the edges of the bin.
Some nearby city council workers were first on scene. They thought something in the recycling bin had exploded. Bits of paper and cardboard was strewn about on the ground near the bin, and the lid was gone.
They went to have a look and found the lady inside the bin. She then, with some assistance, self-extricated from the bin, sat down to catch her breath and walked over to meet the arriving road ambulance.
Apart from some bruising on her arm she appeared unhurt. Not a scratch. The road crew never needed our assistance, drove off and delivered the patient to the local hospital’s trauma team.
There are no learning points from this case. This is the most ridiculous job I ever went to.