I saw and participated in one of my first major traumas today. It was not a very uplifting experience.
The hospital I'm at for my clinicals is pretty small and most major traumas are automatically sent to Flagstaff or Phoenix since both cities have hospitals that are rated Trauma 1. But today they sent us one for reasons unknown to me.
It was an 18 year old man who had been in an MVA. The poor kid had hydroplaned on some wet asphalt slid off the road and was ejected from the car. He had head, neck and abdominal trauma and was in pretty bad shape. They called us for a stat portable chest and pelvis x-ray and would later do a CT scan of the head and neck areas.
It was amazing to watch the docs and nurses swarm around him, all of them doing their jobs with infinite efficiency. I attempted to do my part, namely x-raying the patient's chest and pelvis, in as timely manner as possible.
Upon visual inspection it was clear the kid was in pretty bad shape and once we got the CT scan there was no denying his condition. The head trauma he had sustained had caused a massive bleed in his brain and he was more than likely brain dead already.
At this point they transfered him to Flagstaff since my hospital doesn't have a very advanced neurology dept. The news of his condition hit me harder than I would have expected. I thought about how his family's life would be forever changed by the events of that day. I did my best to continue on during the day, x-raying patients and keeping a cheery demeanor with them. But I kept thinking about when the doctor would finally have to break the news to the kid's family that he was almost certainly brain dead and would most likely not survive for many more hours. How would I react if I were given the same news about my brother, mother or wife? There is no way to know how one will react until one is put into that situation and with any luck I will never have to find out how I would respond.