From the Frontlines: AprilApr 9, 2014
In April, emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen really sees a spike in ATV injuries. It’s actually so bad over the Easter weekend, he calls it the kickoff to trauma season. Find out what the most common injuries are and get some tips from Dr. Madsen so you can avoid a trip to the ER.
Scot: From the Frontlines in April. That's coming up next on The Scope.
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Scot: It's time for another edition of From the Frontlines for April. As an emergency room doctor, Dr. Troy Madsen has his finger on the front line of health concerns. Likely he's going to see it before anybody else. What are you seeing right now and what do people need to know about for the month of April?
Dr. Troy Madsen: The big thing I think about in the month of April is Easter Weekend and the reason I think about that is because people have time off and often there's a holiday around there and they have time off from school, and a lot of people go down to a place called The Little Sahara. I have never been there. Have you been to the Little Sahara?
Scot: It sounds like a sandy place.
Dr. Troy Madsen: It is sandy, it's kind of southern Utah, western Utah and it's kind of southwest of Provo, going out toward Delta. There are a lot of sand dunes. I've never been there, but it sounds like a really cool place. But a lot of people go there and they take their ATVs there. And so the reason I think of April with and the Little Sahara is that it's what I call the starting line for trauma season.
Scot: Oh no.
Dr. Troy Madsen: Yeah, we get tons of people going down there with SUVs; just all kinds of people and tons of injuries. So if you're working Easter weekend, and I've worked that weekend many times and I've got to look to see if I'm working that weekend this year, we just see injury after injury. Basically Air Med, our air transport service puts a helicopter down there and they just go back and forth the entire weekend bringing people in.
Scot: Really? It's that severe?
Dr. Troy Madsen: It is that severe. And when you work that day you're just seeing trauma after trauma, the full spectrum of injuries; head injuries, abdominal injuries, chest injuries, orthopedic injuries. You name it, you're seeing it.
Scot: So when people are on four wheelers or on dirt bikes is there a particular one or two or three types of injuries that are happening?
Dr. Troy Madsen: The most common thing I see that's concerning is they get flown to us for are head injuries, and that's the big thing; because there you can get bleeding in the brain. You can get some very serious complications. Sometimes they may not have had a helmet on, which is going to make things just that much worse, but that's probably the most common thing.
Probably the next most common thing I see that people get flown to us for is for abdominal injuries, and they may have a spleen laceration, something that cuts the spleen and causes bleeding into the abdomen and that becomes very serious.
Scot: How does that happen? What's going on there?
Dr. Troy Madsen: Often times it's either an impact with the handle bars or the ATV itself, or maybe with another person who's riding the ATV with them; something that causes a direct blow to the abdomen. Maybe even a rib fracture over the spleen and then that's going to cause a laceration and cause bleeding there.
Scot: Sudden stops, stuff like that I imagine?
Dr. Troy Madsen: Yeah, sudden stops, wrecks, rolls, you know, all kinds of things. You've got to figure people are just flying up and down these sand dunes and just lots of people, so people are potentially crashing into each other or rolling. Those tend to be the most common things we see.
Scot: All right, and what's number three. Do you have a third one, so head, spleen, what else?
Dr. Troy Madsen: The next one we see is orthopedic injuries, people falling off the SUV or hurting their arm or leg. We'll see sometimes open fractures where basically the bone comes out through the skin, and those can be really nasty when see open ankle fractures. You'll just see the foot basically just pulled away from the ankle itself at a 90 degree angle to it with bone coming out. And those are the kinds of things where you want to get the bone back in place to make sure that they've got good pulses and good blood flow to the foot. But we occasionally will see those kinds of injuries as well.
Scot: So the whole purpose of talking about these is to try to avoid them and tell people what they can do to avoid them. Other than helmets, I guess, what can you do to avoid some of this stuff?
Dr. Troy Madsen: You know, it's kind of tough, but a lot of it just comes down to common sense in terms of safety practices. Be familiar with the area you're riding in. Make sure you know where you're going. If there are going to be people on the other side, if you're coming around blind curves or over the top of one of these sand dunes, anything like that, and be aware with kids. The horrible injuries, the horrible things we see are often times where people are riding with kids on the back of the ATV. A child may fall off or be involved in the accident. Just be very careful and realize the potential for injury and just how devastating those can be.
Scot: I would imagine part of it too is because it is the first major weekend they are back out on these rigs, and probably are riding thinking they have the same experience that maybe they did at the end of the season perhaps.
Dr. Troy Madsen: Sure, that just combines with this sort of pent up desire to just get out in the open, which I think we all feel right now after winter. You just want to get out and enjoy the sunshine, so you combine that and maybe with not having ridden your ATV for maybe four to six months. And then that becomes an issue.
So then combine those things with just the sheer volume of people. You've just got tons of people there. These are not necessarily marked trails; you're just going up and down sand dunes, over the top, and it's very easy to come around a corner or over the top and have a collision with another person.
Scot: From the Front Lines for April, thank you very much Dr. Madsen. On the ATVs just wear your helmet and be careful.
Dr. Troy Madsen: Wear your helmet and be careful and realize that in the ER we are very busy that weekend and just try and make sure you're not one of those people.
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