About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Prince Harry may be royalty but does he know first aid?

Prince Harry playing polo in Brazil. (Official photo)

One line in this morning’s Washington Post story about Prince Harry gave me pause. It quoted Bash Kazi as saying: “Prince Harry was the first one off his horse, doing the right thing, turning me over to make sure I regained consciousness.” The British royal “is a fabulous person,” Kazi added, “and such a gentleman.”

Bash Kazi is described in the article as a D.C. socialite and defense contractor. He was thrown from his horse and knocked unconscious while playing polo on March 11 in Brazil. Prince Harry, on the opposing team, was the first at his side and rolled him over, according to the article.

Rolled him over? An unconscious person who had just suffered a possible head/neck injury? Was that the correct first aid, as Kazi claimed?

This morning I emailed the story link to Dana Love, a former colleague at the Fredericksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad. Dana is a paramedic, one of the instructors at the squad and an all-around smart guy. I asked him what he thought of Prince Harry’s first aid.

This was Dana’s reply:

There’s scant information about the care rendered by HRH, but it seems that he took Kazi from a prone position (face down) and turned him to a supine position (face up.) Kazi is quoted as saying HRH turned him over.

Certainly turning someone over, in either direction, without maintaining spinal stability is a risky proposition. Face-down, Kazi risked asphyxiation in what is described as wet turf, so I’d certainly flip him, but I’d have enlisted the help of other players to do it in a way that didn’t risk injuring his neck and head.

The spinal cord is described to EMS students as a bundle of dry spaghetti. If you twist someone enough to break the strands of dry pasta, you’ve introduced enough torque to their neck to make an injury worse. We sometimes equip the mannequins we use with spaghetti in the neck and use it as a tool to test the skill.

Would I do what HRH did? No. Would I say what he did was wrong? Not based on what I read, but it’s very incomplete. He’s a veteran of Afghanistan and an active duty officer in their Army, so I presume he’s had good training in basic trauma care.

(The Washington Post article can be seen here.)