• You’re shoved to the pavement at a protest. You try to get back up but a cherry-red DM accidentally steps on your pinkies.
• On a picket an over zealous police officer grabs your hand to break the line.
• A politically neutral bee stings you as you try to swot it from your face.
A swollen finger is a perfectly normal body response to any of the above situations, but a tight fitting ring could cause all manner of problems. Constricting rings can lead to more intense swelling, poor lymphatic drainage, and even total loss of circulation to the poor affected digit.
Street Medics don’t as a rule carry ring cutters. That said, we appreciate that you’re attached to both your finger and your ring. That is why we’re keen to get that band of unyielding metal off your pinky as soon as possible.
Some things we as Street Medics might do as to help are:
–Apply ice and elevate asking you to hold your hand above your heart.
-We might lube your finger up (real good) with soap & water and ask you to twist the ring off yourself.
-If we suspect a fracture suggest you go to the Emergency Department and get an X-ray. In ED they are more likely to take an orthopaedic ring cutting device to your beloved ring.
-But, back in the field there’s also a near magical way of removing a ring using only a piece of string and it looks like this: (Though, this method does require a bit of practice.)
And remember, street medics really do care about blood perfusion to your fingers and thumbs. That is why, if we have any doubts suggest you remove the ring straight away. We NEVER remove people’s rings without consent, but if you are insistent you won’t remove the ring, we will politely & non-judgmentally explain we are worried about tissue and nerve damage to the digit.
After the accident and up to 24 hours later, look out for changes in the fingers’ colour, temperature & sensation. If the finger turns pale or blue, gets cold or painful, see a medical practitioner as soon as possible.