Transition Series: Topics for the EMT—Orthopedic Trauma

The immediate treatment of orthopedic injuries can play a major role not just in life or death but also in the overall impact of the injury on the patient

Brady is pleased to share a preview of its EMS Transition Series. The first offering is for the EMT level. Transition Series: Topics for the EMT by Joseph Mistovich and Daniel Limmer provides both an overview of new information contained within the National EMS Education Standards at the EMT level and a source of continuing education for practicing EMTs. Intended for a new generation of EMTs, the text integrates new “topics” that were not contained in the U.S. DOT 1994 EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum and existing “topics” at a much greater depth and breadth than what was contained in the typical EMT-Basic education program. During 2011, EMS World Magazine featured exclusive excerpts from this textbook. Visit for more information.




Applies fundamental knowledge to provide basic emergency care and transportation based on assessment findings for an acutely injured patient.

  • Brief description of the frequency of traumatic injuries and deaths, and the personal ramifications of these types of injuries.
  • Pathophysiology of injury to the skeletal bones, and how some can be either life threatening or limb threatening.
  • Assessment steps and clinical findings consistent with orthopedic trauma is presented.
  • Current treatment parameters and key elements of splinting specific types of injuries:Pelvis fracture; Femur fracture.
  • Effect of orthopedic trauma as it pertains to pediatric and geriatric patients

“No one ever died from a broken bone” is a myth sometimes heard among circles of less-informed healthcare providers. It is true that orthopedic trauma is often classified as a lower priority than airway and breathing, and it is true that a broad spectrum of potential musculoskeletal injuries ranges from severe to minor; however, to universally consider orthopedic trauma to be insignificant or benign in nature is a very serious mistake.

Broken bones have killed. Furthermore, the immediate treatment of orthopedic injuries can play a major role not just in life or death but also in the overall impact of the injury on the patient. The assessment and proper prehospital treatment you provide play a direct role in the outcome of the injury.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death for people under the age of 44; each year, roughly 1 in 10 people will visit an emergency room to seek treatment for a traumatic injury. The tragic loss of life, loss of productivity, and the enormous cost of rehabilitation place a tremendous burden on the healthcare system.

On a personal level, orthopedic injuries are a major life-changing event for many of our patients. Aside from being potentially life-threatening injuries, musculoskeletal trauma may also threaten patients’ well-being, psychological health, and general independence.

Often, care of orthopedic trauma is mistakenly delegated to a lower priority. Although there certainly may be higher priorities of care in a trauma patient, appropriate treatment of a musculoskeletal injury may significantly affect the severity of the injury and, in general, improve the overall outcome of the patient.


The adult body contains 206 bones. These bones are connected to each other by ligaments and articulated with muscles and tendons. Together these bones and connective tissues form the musculoskeletal system. Before we consider what can go wrong, we should first consider the basic functions of the musculoskeletal system. Bone, muscle, and connective tissue work together to provide the body with five basic functions:

  • Giving the body shape
  • Protection of important structures
  • Movement
  • Creation of red blood cells
  • Storage of key minerals the body uses for metabolism.
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