Thursday, June 28, 2012

LOCKOUT - Bacteria

My cartoonist husband and I saw Lockout --- what a blast! I don't like prison movies as a rule, but I'm going to have to make an exception for prison movies in space from now on! Sure, there were some plot and script problems, but the film was delightfully bombastic and cliched in some witty ways.

There were two extra-entertaining moments in the film. The first, see below, caused me to research wound first aid. I'll talk about that in a moment. The second was when the heroine of the film had to get a needle stuck through her eye in order to inject her brain with something, I forget what. I'm not going into details here, but it was soooo funny! Diet Coke almost came out of my nose, I was laughing so hard! 

This moment was worth the price of admission!
Our heroine, Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace) has been shot in the thigh. She's got a big ol' gooey wound (thanks to make-up or special effects or whoever is in charge of wound guck!) A prison worker in a lab coat gives her first aid and dresses Emilie's wound through her pants.  

For some reason I was distracted for the rest of the film by the fact that no one cut or tore Emilie's pant leg away from her wound. She has this gun shot wound to the thigh that is oozing but not spurting, as far as I can tell. My instinct is to assume it would be better to tear the fabric away from the wound site, look to make sure there aren't bone fragments sticking out of the area, and then apply a compress. Although I watch EMTs on TV, I am not one. In the moment I wanted the drama of the torn pant leg and I was distracted by the fantasy of a potential compound fracture. But trying to stop bleeding first does seem like best practice, in retrospect.

The last time I was helping someone with a wound while waiting for the EMTs, I pulled a maxi pad out of my purse to use for compression and bleeding control. It was the cleanest, most absorbent thing around. Highly effective. Slightly embarrassing. I now keep an extra pad in my bag, just in case I encounter another head wound (Too much information?) 
Look! It's got "leak lock" protection. That'll come in handy in a gun fight.
Admittedly if you are surrounded by lecherous male (presumably heterosexual) escaped prison convicts you may want to compress the area without baring any female thigh. I bet if someone had slapped a Stay-Free on Emilie's thigh, the sight of feminine hygiene products might have tempered the sexually charged mood. 

Let's say keeping that pant leg on was the best strategy for immediate wound treatment in the field. Once Emilie and her rescuer, Snow (Guy Pearce), got to a prison medical facility, I thought our ex-CIA operative would bare that leg and do some cleaning or some wound assessment while he's busy flirting with Emilie.  Did I mention she happens to be the president's daughter? 
The dressing sort of looks like a maxi pad, doesn't it?
Later I realized that of course Snow is going to keep Emilie's pants on! He's got to get her out of there! if he disrupts the pants which are smashed into the wound by the bullet and then by the dressing, he might rip a clot off and start her bleeding again. Plus there's not really time to meticulously clean the thigh. That would be a bad idea. Better to leave the wound cleaning to a doctor.
Somebody's using the excuse of lifting that tiny syringe
to show off his biceps to the President's daughter!
Is the president's daughter going to die of sepsis if her wound isn't cleaned properly within an 8 hour period(1)? No, she's not, but this gives me an excuse to blog about infection, sepsis, and necrosis.

Glad you asked! It's the presence of harmful bacteria in a wound or the blood stream. An overwhelming number of bacteria in tissues can lead to necrosis (tissue death) caused by toxins excreted by the bacteria, or the cell walls of the bacteria can be toxic in themselves. Infection and necrosis are often accompanied by pus(2). A lot of bacteria can lead to huge amounts of pus, or even worse, gangrene, and/or the bacteria may leave the wound site, get into the person's blood stream, and kill the person(3). Another name for bacteria in the blood is bacteremia. 
Bacteria come in many shapes and sizes...
Yes, even the pants of the President's daughter are going to harbor bacteria. The bullet itself may also have bacteria on it. Once Emilie gets back to Earth she's going to have to go to the doctor to get the caky, clotted blood, fabric, dressing, and microbes cleaned out of that thigh. 

1. I say eight hours because it's a plot point.
2. Pus - a thickened soup of dead tissue, white blood cells, and cellular debris. It comes in shades of whitish, yellowish, and greenish. Sometimes you can smell it! Ick. I've grossed myself out.
3. For an excellent description of infected wound signs and symptoms and their treatment check out the article on Another good first aid description is at


  1. Actually, Kriota has played an EMT on TV -- on "Ugly Americans." Hopefully this link will work: