First Aid/Shoulder and arm injuries


I need some information for my novel. A person is stabbed just under his clavicle, closer to the shoulder. Is it possible that lung and joint stays undamaged, and no serious    
consequences happen? And when the ambulance comes, what has to be done? And one more thing. Another person gets his arm wounded by a sharp rake. There has to be a serious bleeding, probably from veins. Is this possible if the upper arm is injured? Or should it be forearm? And what first aid would this person get?
Thank you so much,

Hello Rasa,

The shoulder is a pretty complex joint, even if you were to miss cutting all joint structures you would likely hit supporting structures (muscles, nerves, tendons, and blood vessels). It is doubtful that your character could escape a stab wound to the shoulder without the need for surgical repair.

The arm wound:  Just because it's venous bleeding doesn't mean it's minor. There are a number of blood vessels in the upper and lower arm (veins) that have the potential for sizable blood loss if the bleeding isn't quickly controlled. The lower arm is slightly better if you have to choose one. I assume this would be some kind of landscape rake with steel teeth?

The general treatment for a soft tissue wound (stabbing or rake injury) is direct pressure, bandaging and immobilization of the joints above and below the wound. In the case of an arm/ shoulder injury this means an arm sling.

Good luck with your story.


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Marcus LaBarbera


I am available to answer most questions related to: first aid, pre- hospital medicine, EMT and Paramedic questions, medical transport, critical care transport, ICU/CCU care, sedation, and medicine in general.


I have worked as a NYS Paramedic since 1993 for both community based ambulance companies and large commercial agencies. I Have experience as bike team commander, and shift supervisor for a commercial ambulance. As a member of the Disaster team I was deployed to Louisiana for 20 days following hurricane Katrina. I worked along side the county Haz-Mat team as a "Tox-Medic" with advanced training in treating injuries from chemical agents. Besides my experience on the on the ambulance I have worked in a number of hospital based offices including dialysis and a sleep lab.

I started my EMS career as a NYS CFR (Certified First Responder)in 1989, an EMT in 1991, a Paramedic since 1993, and a CCU transport paramedic since 2005. I currently hold certification as a: NYS Paramedic, Critical Care Transport Paramedic, ACLS/CPR/PALS certified. Advanced Haz-Mat Life Support certified (AHLS). In the past I have taught CPR and ACLS to my coworkers and the local community.

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