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Command & Leadership, EMS, Firefighting, HMHQ, Patient Care, Rescue, Training

You got WHAT stuck in a bowling ball?

In my memoirs of EMS (Working title – My Life in CQI: Kill me now, just document it properly) some calls will stand above all others.  This, sadly, is not one of mine, but from a friend overseas.

No, not Mark.

I got an email about a curious rescue his agency was called to and was wondering what I would have done.

So, here is the scenario:


A 19 year old male has gotten his finger stuck in a bowling ball.  He somehow wedged it in there so far, it up against the webbing of his hand with very little wiggle room.  Rotating the ball is out of the question as he seems to have the finger next to it wedged in almost just as bad.

25 minutes into the call you’ve tried gel, ice, lubricants of questionable origin (who carries that stuff into a bowling alley?) and brute force.  Prayer is taking place and all options seem exhausted when the decision is made to simply move him, and the 16 pound bowling ball, to the hospital.  What will they do there?  Dunno.


What would you do?

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  1. Jonathan May 28, 2013 9:10 pm

    Assuming the thumbhole is not occupied, jamb in an M-80, or maybe even an M-100. You probably should NOT remind the patient that an M-100 will shred a metal trash can.

    But seriously, cut the ball away until there’s just the material immediately surrounding the fingers, then CAREFULLY whittle and chisel at the material until it’s thin enough to split or break. I actually had something similar happen when some jerk decided to jamb a fairly expensive mechanical pencil (mine, I was a drafter in another life) into a tight hole in a 2×4.

  2. Andy May 29, 2013 2:44 am

    Take to our local ER. Mainly because we are the sole crew for the town, and normally can’t hang around to long. If we had time to hang around I would say carefully cut close to the holes and try to carefully cut the fingers free. I would also give our local bowling alley a call and ask to talk to the person who drills the holes to see what they thought might work or not work to get fingers out or to cut the ball.

  3. Greg Friese May 29, 2013 7:02 am

    This story will go in the chapter,

    “Kegler Kapers”

    or “Patients for 300”

    or “Spare Balls”

    or “Clown Shoes for Athletes”

    or “Friends of Laverne and Shirley”

    or “Is that a bowling ball in your pocket … ”

    or “Life in the Gutter” or …

  4. sstabeler May 29, 2013 1:42 pm

    drill into the ball to break the cover. then the fingers will probably pull out of the core. ( it’s basically rubber)

  5. R May 29, 2013 9:56 pm

    Elevate the limb to reduce distal blood pressure and enhance venous return. Wait a while and see what happens with lube, etc.

    • Bill Degnan June 4, 2013 8:06 pm

      Apply BP cuff to limb and inflate. Slide ball from finger. As a possible adjunct technique: cut the pointy parts off a butterfly. Attempt placement of the tubing along the dorsal or ventral side of the finger. Use a 10 cc air-filled syringe to gently introduce air to the space between the ball and the finger, to break suction.

      Last resort: fluoroscopy-guided drilling of a vent hole (in the ball).

  6. Andrew June 5, 2013 11:04 am

    All of these ideas sound great, but they all also seem like they would tie up an EMS unit for a good amount of time. For that reason, after exhausting all of my options I would probably take him to the local ER to have it removed.

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