The Nation's Health + trauma

Bridging The Gap

"18 year old male, on railway tracks, multiple injuries"

I'm assuming most of you have heard of The Darwin Awards?! If you haven't, they are basically a fictitious award that recognise individuals who have contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death due to their own unnecessarily foolish actions. The awards are now more official after a serious of books and the criterion for the awards states, "in the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinary idiotic manner, thereby improving our species chances of long-term survival". Now, this nominee didn't die, somehow, but his actions and the similar actions of others is what provides us with job security!

There he was, lying on the tracks, about 2 foot from the train. He was covered in blood. He had head injuries, broken teeth, a broken ankle and a dislocated shoulder. He found it all very amusing, due to the fact he was totally plastered. We found the general situation less amusing. I'm sure the 1000s of passengers at this busy station during the rush hour were also not amused. Neither did the police, the fire brigade, the station staff, HEMS and the rest of the gang who'd arrived. That is A LOT of resources! Anyway, we treated all of his injuries, packaged him up, lifted him off the tracks and got him off to hospital.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about." he said.


45 minutes earlier......

He had been drinking with friends all day whilst watching the cricket. He was well dressed and frightfully well spoken. He went to a very expensive, private school and made sure we all knew about it. Anyway, the cricket had finished and it was time to get home 'in time for supper'. He arrived at the station with friends and they were cutting it fine to get their train. If they'd have missed it, they would have had to wait a whole 15 minutes until the next one. They rushed up the platform in a loud and garish rabble. They had come up to the wrong platform and their train was approached. They were faced with a choice. Do they a) cut their losses and wait for the next one or b) run back down the stairs, along the corridor and back up to train. It appears our patient had a better idea. He had option c)!


Option c) involved a leap of faith. A jump of at least 16 feet, across two train tracks and onto the concrete platform on the other side. 16 feet is a long way, especially with a small run up and especially when landing on concrete!

With the train approaching, and to the horror of onlookers, he went for it. He ran, he jumped, and about 8 ft short, he landed. And landed badly. Despite breaking his ankle he managed to scramble, fuelled by adrenaline to the far platform edge and climb up. Somehow, he made it! In what was a pure act of bravado and showmanship, he stood up, and like Rocky Balboa, raised his arms above his head in celebration.

FACT: Standing up straight when drunk can be a challenge. Standing up straight when drunk, with a badly broken ankle is never going to end well.

Sure enough, with the train now 20 ft away he fell backwards.


He again, land on the tracks with a thud. The train slammed on the brakes but not quite soon enough. By all accounts the patient somehow managed to stand before the impact and was then bounced backwards before the train came to an abrupt halt.

He was alive and not critically injured. He had multiple broken bones, delayed 1000s of people getting home and needed the assistance of every emergency service. And all because he didn't want to be late for supper! Genius! One thing is for sure. There will always be candidates for The Darwin Awards and there will always be people intent on providing us with job security. I suppose that in itself is a blessing.


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Relevant to: Bridging The Gap + trauma