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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Crush injuries present unique problems for rescuers

Crush injuries are a terrifying possibility for construction workers and industrial plant employees -- both of whom work in industries where large pieces of equipment are used and heavy loads of raw materials are frequently moved around.

During a crush injury, the victim is trapped, virtually immobile, underneath tons of weight -- but you need to keep as calm as possible under the situation and think through what needs to be done. The wrong response during a crush injury can quickly prove fatal to the victim.

Here are some things you need to keep in mind:

1. Call for help before you do anything else. Let the emergency response team know that the victim is underneath a heavy pile of weight so that they understand what type of personnel and equipment they may need to bring. If your industrial plant or construction site is rural, that may save precious time and your co-worker's life.

2. If it is possible to remove the weight quickly, do so and proceed with ordinary first aid treatment, like staunching blood flow and elevating damaged limbs while you wait on the emergency personnel to arrive.

3. If it is not possible to remove the weight by the time emergency personnel will arrive, do not attempt to do so. If you try, you may induce what is known as compartment syndrome. Compartment syndrome occurs when tissues in a crushed limb become necrotic due to the injuries. The pressure on the limb is the only thing that keeps the poisonous tissue from spreading to the rest of the body. If the pressure is abruptly removed, the victim can die from renal failure or other complications of compartment syndrome.

4. In either situation, try to keep the victim calm, and make sure that he or she has access to air and water until the rescue team arrives.

Anyone who has suffered a crush injury due to an industrial accident or construction accident needs to consider contacting an attorney for more advice.

Source: American College of Emergency Physicians, "Crush Injury and Crush Syndrome," accessed June 13, 2017

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