Doctor: How we saved man impaled through car seat
IMPALED by a post, trapped in his seat, luck appeared to be against a man in his mid-20s involved in a horror road crash.
He'd been driving north of Gympie, along a rural road at Curra, when his vehicle left the road and drove over a pole which flicked up, penetrating the floor of the car, going through his seat, impaling his lower body.
The car stopped about 150m further along, and it was then that the man's luck turned for the better.
Luckily for him the Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight crew of critical care doctor Matthew Mulkeen and his team were on-call and making a beeline to him about 8.30pm Saturday.
Information was scarce.
All Dr Mulkeen and his team knew when they jumped in the chopper was that a young, male driver had become impaled on a metal pole.
"That's pretty much all the information we had going out there," Dr Mulkeen recalled, speaking to the media today.
It took more than 90 minutes to free the driver, as firefighters, ambulance officers and the LifeFlight team worked to ensure he would not bleed out on the scene.
"Obviously it's quite a delicate situation, the patient was critical at that point," Dr Mulkeen said.
"The danger was any unnecessary movements dislodging the pole essentially and the risk of exsanguination (severe blood loss) at the scene."
A humble Dr Mulkeen said it was the sort of job they were "trained to do", praising the work of firefighters and ambulance officers.
He admitted it was a rare case.
"He (driver) was obviously very unlucky, it's not something we see very often, but at the same time he was extremely lucky as well that it probably missed vital organs that would've killed him on the spot," Dr Mulkeen said.
The driver was conscious when Dr Mulkeen's team arrived, they quickly decided to place the driver under a general anaesthetic for pain control and to prepare him for surgery, stabilising him before they flew him to Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Dr Mulkeen said they tried not to delay on roadside scenes, but had no choice in this instance, as firefighters worked to cut the pole shorter to allow the man to be freed.
Working within the confines of a vehicle, in the dark, made for added difficulty, but he said that was all part of the skillset possessed by retrieval doctors whose aim was to preserve life until hospital trauma teams could take charge.
He said the latest update he'd heard was that the young driver remained in a stable condition.
It marked a busy day for the Coast LifeFlight team, while Queensland Police have made an urgent request of all drivers to take care on the roads, after seven fatal traffic incidents since Friday.
The horror start to school holidays on Queensland roads took the state's road toll to 236 and the December road toll of 11 was already more than the entire month last year.