TREATING PENETRATING CHEST TRAUMA AND DECOMPRESSING
Section I. TREATING AN OPEN CHEST WOUND
The body has two lungs. Each lung is enclosed in a separate airtight area within
the chest. If an object punctures the chest wall and allows air to get into one of these
areas, the lung within that area begins to collapse. In order for both lungs to collapse,
both sides of the chest would have to be punctured. Any degree of collapse, however,
interferes with the casualty's ability to breathe and reduces the amount of oxygen
available for the body to use. Figure 4-1 shows a normal chest and lungs. Figure 4-2
shows a chest and lungs with a penetrating (open) chest wound that has allowed one of
the lungs to collapse.
Figure 4-1. Normal chest cavity and lungs.
Figure 4-2. Collapsed lung.