Ask An EMT: What Happened To Terrell’s Leg?!?!

For this week’s Ask An EMT, we’re looking at a video that was an instant classic. Terrell’s bmx leg break. You guys remember this… It’s the video where Terrell breaks his leg and dangles the snapped leg in the air, completely astonished by the accident.     

I sent this video on to Chris with one question:

WTF happened to Terrell’s leg?!?!

This one is definitely a doozy! Gosh where to start…well, this young man “Terrell” clearly fractured his right tibia and fibula. These are the two bones that connect your femur (thigh) to your ankle. Basically your lower leg.

What did his tibia say to the fibula? “Aw, snap!” Right? No? Now I’m embarrassed. 

Now, anytime there is a fracture there can be many complications that might occur such as skin penetration (open fracture/compound) which could lead to dirt and debris getting in and causing infection. The bone fragments could also nick a blood vessel causing bleeding, usually internally.

So, like last week, let’s take this to the extreme. This is awful, but how much worse could it have been?

One thing he should be glad didn’t happen was that he didn’t fracture his femur (close to the worst case scenario). The femur is the strongest bone in your body with its density being comparable to concrete! With that being said, if he were to fracture his femur it could nick his femoral artery, causing massive internal bleeding which could very easily lead to hypovolemic shock and eventually death if not treated properly. I believe that one could bleed out more than a 1/3 of their own blood volume into the femoral cavity.

So, you could basically turn yourself into a jug of your own blood? Awesome. So why isn’t Terrell doing what I imagine that I’d be doing, screaming, crying, and possibly eliminating excess waste from my body?

To answer your question about how someone with such a traumatic injury could hold a conversation with someone so nonchalantly, it’s simply because they’re in shock. They just can’t believe what happened REALLY HAPPENED. Therefore it doesn’t have a psychological effect until “reality” starts setting…along with the pain and symptoms haha. Referring back to the good ol’ pain scale, I’d say this kid would be at a 10 for sure once reality set in. Fortunately for him he had his friends take him to the hospital in their trusty ghetto rapist van ambulance.

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It absolutely does look like a ghetto rapist vanbulance! Like if they dialed 911, an ambulance would show up, and then a cop with a blacklight to take DNA samples. So this looks terrible, but how big a deal is it?

Assuming this kid didn’t do too much damage fragmenting his bones, he probably had minor surgery to reset the bones and then was put in a cast for a few months.

I love this video, and I’m glad I got to get Chris’s perspective on it. Is there a video you’d like to ask an EMT about? Let us know in the comments!

-Earnest (on Twitter)

Chris Manley is a nationally registered EMT with five years’ experience in emergency response.