Heads Up Alaska: The Golden Hour
The first 60 minutes after a traumatic brain injury can be crucial
ANCHORAGE - It’s known as the "golden hour": the first 60 minutes following a traumatic injury where immediate medical treatment may save a life.
"They are evaluated, placed on monitors for rhythm disturbance, oxygen saturation, blood pressure; pulse is checked,” said Scott Sims, an emergency room doctor at Alaska Regional Hospital.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be mild, moderate or severe, and Sims says three things help him to determine the severity.
"If they are speaking normally or they are not; if they are moving their extremities normally; if they have visual contact or appropriate motion with their eyes if you are conversing with someone.”
If the patient is unconscious, Dr. Sims uses image scanning to get a better idea of what is going on.
The most common causes of a TBI are falls, motor vehicle accidents, ATV/snow machine accidents, and assaults.
Here in the Last Frontier, most TBIs are happening in our rural areas. The numbers could be drastically reduced by the simple act of wearing a helmet -- something that Mitch Stanaland agrees with. Stanaland is the program director for Lifeflight at Alaska Regional Hospital.
"There is a misconception that, 'I am just going a short distance, I don't need to wear my protective helmet.' We transport a lot of patients who are crushed by their ATV,” he said.
Stanaland’s team provides in-flight critical care to patients from rural Alaska while flying them to Anchorage.
"When you are talking about injuries such as TBIs, time is critical, and if you are a distance away from a proper care center it's important to activate those assets early to get that treatment started early."
Dr. Scott Sims says there a certain symptoms that people should be aware of in order to determine if the "golden hour" applies.
"If they have a loss of consciousness, if they have any amnesia of the event, if they have any abnormal neurological symptoms, bad headache, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, any of these things would cause a normal person to come to the E.R. promptly,” said Sims.