EMT Trauma Assessment Scenarios

Knowing how to quickly and effectively assess the patient and situation is paramount for any EMT when responding to any emergency. However, in trauma scenarios, these effective and efficient assessments become vital and can determine the patient’s outcome. These assessments serve as crucial moments where EMTs must rapidly evaluate and prioritize interventions to address life-threatening injuries.

As a new EMT, these situations can seem daunting, but through practice trauma assessment scenarios, you can hone your skills and prepare yourself for the unpredictable nature of trauma emergencies.

The Importance of EMT Assessments

A thorough, accurate assessment is critical on an emergency scene but particularly important on trauma scenes. An accurate EMT trauma patient assessment is the linchpin of successful trauma management, providing a structured framework for identifying injuries, assessing severity, and initiating appropriate interventions.

Your assessment should follow a systematic approach that identifies and addresses immediate life threats, ensuring you provide timely and effective care for each trauma patient. By conducting a thorough trauma assessment upon arrival on the scene, you can quickly and efficiently triage patients, initiate treatment, and facilitate seamless transitions of care to higher medical care facilities.

Practice Trauma Assessment Scenarios

Preparing for the rapid-paced and unpredictable nature of a trauma scene is a daunting task for many new EMTs. While replicating the unpredictability of these scenes is tricky, you can hone your skills and test your responses through practice trauma assessment scenarios.

Assessment Scenario 1: Significant Fall

You’re dispatched to an accident scene involving a middle-aged man who has fallen from scaffolding. His coworkers report he fell from approximately 30 feet up, landing in the dirt below. Upon arrival, you find him lying on his back with clear deformities in his left arm and blood on his pants around his left femur. He’s unresponsive, although he appears to be breathing.

General impression  Adult male lying on his back with obvious deformities and significant trauma
Consciousness level Unresponsive
Chief complaint Fall from 30 feet
Airway  Patient “snoring” and “gurgling,” red-tinged sputum
Breathing  Slow
Circulation  Rapid, weak pulse
Skin color, temperature, and condition Cool, clammy, pale
SAMPLE history S – Unresponsive
A – Unknown
M – Unknown
P – Unknown
L – Just finished lunch
E – Coworkers saw patient trip on scaffolding and fall
Baseline vitals Blood pressure – 118/80 mmHg
Pulse – 120 beats/minute
Respiration – 12 breaths/minute

Upon arrival, EMTs should evaluate the scene for safety hazards, such as loose equipment, tripping hazards, or energized tools. Treatment involves establishing an airway, splinting deformities, applying bandages to the leg wound, and safely moving the patient to a backboard with a C-collar for high-priority transportation.

Assessment Scenario 2: Struck by a Car

A man in his mid-20s was struck by a car when attempting to cross the street, as street-parked cars blocked the driver’s view of him. When you arrive on the scene, he is supine, lying in the middle of the road. Cars attempt to pass the man, skirting to either side of where he lies.

He appears to be awake and alert, with no signs of major blood loss or obvious trauma. When transferring the patient to the board, he passes urine containing a significant amount of blood.

General impression Patient appears to be conscious and alert with no obvious trauma
Consciousness level  Alert
Chief complaint  Pain through right chest and pelvis
Airway  Open
Breathing  Slightly labored
Circulation  Radial pulse, weak and rapid
Skin color, temperature, and condition  Pale and dry
SAMPLE history  S – Pain in right chest and pelvis
A – None
M – None
P – Patient denies having significant past medical history
L – Patient can’t remember
E – Walking to work
Baseline vitals  Blood pressure – 90/60 mmHg
Pulse – 130 beats/minute, weak
Respirations – 36 breaths/minute, shallow and labored

Upon arrival, EMTs should recognize an unsafe scene, secure it, and move the patient to safety. Treatment involves immediate application of oxygen, full spinal restriction procedures, and transportation to a trauma center immediately.

Assessment Scenario 3: Impaled on a Branch

You’re called to a scene of a dirt biking accident where a 36-year-old male has been impaled by a branch while riding. Upon arriving on the scene, you find the man lying on his right side with a tree branch protruding from his right chest, though the branch did not go all the way through. He reports he didn’t see the branch protruding from a nearby brush pile until it was too late.

General impression 36-year-old man lying on his side with a branch protruding from his right chest
Consciousness level  Awake
Chief complaint  Impaled on a branch
Airway  Open
Breathing  Labored
Circulation  Rapid
Skin color, temperature, and condition  Cool, clammy, pale
SAMPLE history  S – Alert, chest pain
M – None
P – None
L – Lunch three hours ago
E – Riding a dirt bike
Baseline vitals  Blood pressure – 110/74 mmHg
Pulse – 120 beats/minute
Respirations – 36 breaths/minute, labored

A rapid trauma exam uncovers various soft tissue injuries and an incomplete branch impalement. The patient begins coughing up blood and has decreased lung sounds on the right. Treatment involves packing gauze into the wound, stabilizing the branch after cutting it shorter to make it more manageable, moving the patient to a backboard with a C-collar, providing oxygen, and monitoring vitals. Transport in emergency mode and call for advanced life support.

Hone Your Assessment Skills With More Practice

Mastering EMT trauma assessment scenarios is essential for delivering timely and effective care for patients in critical need. While responding to trauma scenarios can seem overwhelming for newbie EMTs, assessing your patient, like anything, takes practice. Through repeated practice of example trauma assessment scenarios, you can hone your skills and build your confidence for navigating complex trauma emergencies with precision and efficiency.

If you’re ready to test your knowledge or hone your skills with more practice to prepare for your NREMT EMT exam, our NREMT EMT Exam Prep is here to help. It covers everything from trauma responses to EMS operations, helping you turn your weak spots into strengths through various quiz options, from Weakest Subject Quizzes to Mock Exams. Remember, learning traumatic injury management takes practice like anything, so don’t be too hard on yourself!