Dr Boyd Peters: Vorsprung durch Schmiermittel, I'd say

A necessary part of a GP's job in remote and rural Scotland is attending car accidents, and I have seen quite a few in my time.

Dr Boyd Peters: 'Putting the Sandpiper bag to one side, O opened my trusty GP bag and took out the lubricating jelly.'
Dr Boyd Peters: 'Putting the Sandpiper bag to one side, O opened my trusty GP bag and took out the lubricating jelly.'

When I attend a road accident, I always have my Sandpiper bag with me. This is a standardised portable immediate care medical kit that is issued to doctors and nurses in remote areas.

The Sandpiper Trust is a charity that has been working consistently for the past 20 years to ensure doctors receive the BASICS (British Association for Immediate Care) training and the equipment that we need to deal with the trauma scenarios that can arise.

Of course, this training cannot cover every eventuality and sometimes a bit of improvisation and a cool head will win the day.

I remember one smash where a driver was trapped in a sturdy German-made car. Several fire brigade teams with specialist cutting equipment had struggled for an hour to release him, with no success. German engineering was defeating them.

By now, the casualty was becoming hypothermic and I was growing concerned. (Would I get my lunch today? What about all those really important gluten-free prescriptions I needed to sign back at base?) He was trapped by one leg, which was stuck fast just above the ankle, somewhere in the twisted metal that used to house the gearstick, clutch pedal and engine body.

An idea came to me. Putting the Sandpiper bag to one side, I opened my trusty GP bag and took out the lubricating jelly. A quick squirt of opiate into the patient and a long squirt of the cold lube all around his ankle and foot soon followed.

Then a firm grasp of his knee and a huge pull. These days, orthopaedics can fix all sorts of limb damage, I told myself, even the sort that is caused by a doctor.

There was a loud popping sound and his leg was released, unharmed. Minutes later, he was in an ambulance and a fire chief was congratulating me.

I tried to remain modest. Had I known the German word for lubricant at that point, I would have nodded sagely and said: ‘Vorsprung durch Schmiermittel.’ But I didn’t, so I trotted out the familiar catchphrase that is used in the car ad.

* Dr Peters is a GP in the Scottish Highlands. If you are interested in writing a column for GP, please email sarah.wild@haymarket.com

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