The Altons at Doom and Bloom Medical have an article up on the skill of wound debridement – the removal of necrotic tissue and foreign objects from a wound which may impede healing. There are some wound photos, so be warned.
Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and paramedics and the high-tech equipment they work with are the heart of advanced medical care. When highly-trained personnel are unavailable, it becomes the responsibility of the average citizen to obtain medical education and supplies. Lack of knowledge and materials will cost lives in any situation where modern care is not an option.
In today’s medicine, few providers care for every medical issue experienced by a patient. Even generalists send their patients to specialists for specific problems. In a survival setting, this is no longer possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand wound healing and the procedures that help a victim make a full recovery. One of these procedures is debridement.
Debridement speeds the healing process in various ways. Dead tissue inhibits the development of healthy new cells and makes the area susceptible to infection. It can also hide the signs of bacterial invasion.
Debridement is rarely taught in standard first aid courses. Even high-level education meant to deal with emergency trauma can get your victim to the hospital, but little for days or weeks down the road. I would guess that a volunteer stint with Doctors Without Borders might be closest, short of a surgical residency.
A variety of techniques are used to accomplish debridement and more than one type may be used on the same patient…
Imagine you’re three days into a six-day hiking trip on the Yukon River. You’re taking some time out from hiking to explore the river and maybe try your hand at some fishing. As you approach the bank, you slip in some soft mud and fall to the ground. You throw your hand out and catch yourself on a large piece of flint, cutting your palm open to the fascia, before sliding into the organically rich mud.
Your buddy is a few dozen yards away and gets to you quickly. He immediately wipes away some of the gooey mud and you’re able to see some of the damage, including some of the white/silvery connective tissue. While you’re sitting there watching the blood well up, you begin to anticipate the inevitable pain. In addition, you’re immediately concerned about the contamination of the wound, given that you just noticed a pile of moose droppings right next to the rock that cut you.
However, you have an ITS Boo Boo Plus Kit, which you were smart enough to buy specifically for this trip. You pull it out of your pack and crack it open for the first time.
What Kind of Wound is it?
All external wounds share one common trait, they all damage your skin. Your skin is a very important organ, as it helps manage thermoregulation (as in helps manage your body temperature) and it provides a protective barrier to keep bad stuff out and good stuff in. When you injure it, you impede its function.
With respect to physical wounds, we can categorize them three main ways: low risk, high risk and functional or cosmetic risk.