Using Marijuana Bale as a Splint

Before the checkpoint was placed on Hwy 286 near Three Points there were multiple MVAs that would occur along that stretch of highway between Sasabe and Three Points. I can recall an MVA involving drug smugglers where they were being followed by USBP and when USBP lighted up and attempted to pull over the driver and occupant became nervous and attempted to flee. They were driving a white pickup truck that was fully loaded with marijuana. They lost control of their vehicle at approximately MP 9 on Hwy 286 and rolled several times coming to a stop in the upright position.

Arivaca Fire then a volunteer department was dispatched. Three personnel were enroute to the scene in an ambulance and an engine. U/A met by USBP who claimed they had two pts. First patient had been ejected during the crash and the second was trapped in the vehicle. LN4 from Tubac was launched.

I remember the first thing I saw as I was walking towards the scene were pot bales strewn about the landscape. They were everywhere. USBP was armed on scene and needed everyone’s names for documentation. My job was to attend to the trapped occupant. My partner and I used our extrication tools to remove the driver side door and the roof of the vehicle. The driver’s seat was broken and because we had to stabilize the patient we used what we had near us to stabilize the seat during extrication. That “something” happened to be a bale of marijuana as it was the right size and weight. I have learned in this business you use what you have available to use.

Due to the severity of the accident and the fact that both patients needed access to ALS and Arivaca Fire at that time was only BLS it was imperative that we stabilize the patients for transport while awaiting the arrival of the helo. The driver had a severe head injury and was unconscious.

Due to limited personnel, we were unable to extricate the patient and provide needed pt care so we held off on extrication and attended to the patients until the arrival of additional units. Once LN4 arrived on scene their Flight Nurse took over patient care while we then extricated the patient. The patient, still unconscious, was placed on LSB and lifted out of the top of the vehicle where the roof had been. The Flight Medic assumed pt care for the other patient who was ultimately transported by ground.

Both patients were transported to UMC due to it being the closest trauma center. Both patients survived.

The biggest challenge for this call was the fact that there was limited personnel and this was a very complex scene. We easily could’ve used medical and fire personnel who each had their jobs to perform but in this case while all three of us were both fire and medical trained we didn’t have the luxury of delegating specific responsibilities. We had to do it all! That was and is almost always the case in rural areas such as this.

This call made the KVOA news. It was circa 2005 or 2006.