EMS Transport Tips: Do Not Drop The Olympic Athlete

I thought the initial lack of at least splinting-in-place straight off was bad enough for poor French gymnast Samir Ait Said, who suffered an open tib/fib fracture while performing his second vault yesterday.

But the medical staff did get around to it eventually, after removing him from the floor.

Gymnast Samir Ait Said Breaks Leg in Rio

Frankly, if I’ve learned anything working this year as an EMT in special events, it’s that personnel on scene make patient care decisions based on what they encounter on arrival. Judging those decisions from across the stadium, let alone across the world, is dicey. Every venue has their own protocols about how to handle patients based on event efficacy, liability, visibility, etc.

Those concerns, whether providers like it or not, are legitimate ones that have to be taken into consideration with event EMS.

But then they DROPPED HIM. Said was halfway in the bus. Dude is 146 lbs. Unacceptable, no matter what.

Update: A few people have mentioned, with good reason, that Rio medical personnel’s insistence on maintaining c-spine on Said seems kind of beside the point. Given the paralytic and catastrophic nature of gymnastics injuries, I wouldn’t be surprised if collaring athletes was a standing order at the Games, “just to be safe,” regardless of its efficacy. In my experience the phrase is generally tantamount to “just for the optics,” but never mind.

Then again, if you look at the image below, it seems the staff about to drop their patient on the way to the hospital also dropped something else on the way to the bus. Can you find it?

French Athlete Waves to Crowd Following Devastating Injury

For what it’s worth, 361 Degrees isn’t the name of a clumsy emergency medical services company; it’s the brand providing uniforms to medical and operational staff, as well as referees and volunteers in Rio.

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