Prowers Medical Center Executes Disaster Plan for Multi-Vehicle Accident

Lamar Fire Department and Med Trans Ambulance Displayed at 2014 Health Fair

Lamar Fire Department and Med Trans Ambulance Displayed at 2014 Health Fair

The multi vehicle collision that occurred on Wednesday, June 10, on Highway 287 south of Lamar resulted in numerous injuries and loss of life.  The majority of the injured were taken by local Lamar/County Fire and Ambulance services to the Prowers Medical Center emergency room.  Medical staff responded to care for the injured on several levels within moments of being notified of the accident at 7pm that evening.  Here is an accounting of that response from a press release from PMC and from several follow-up questions on how the injured were treated.

At approximately 7:00 pm, Prowers Medical Center (PMC) was notified of a multiple vehicle accident south of Lamar.  The Trauma Team was activated and both Eagle Med and Memorial Star helicopters were called and placed on standby.

The Emergency Medical Services team with Med Trans Ambulance Service contacted the hospital’s Emergency Department stating they were dispatching to the area for assistance.

At 7:13 pm, Prowers County Dispatch requested that the helicopters be launched for assistance with immobilization and transfer of patients.  At 7:22 pm, Flight for Life was also contacted and asked to launch for assistance.

At 7:20 pm, it was determined that additional staffing would be required to address incoming patients and the hospital’s External Disaster Plan was executed.  The facility’s Disaster Call Tree procedures were initiated following protocols associated with the number of patients to be received and made the necessary assignments for activation of the plan.  Approximately, 70 – 75 PMC Team Members comprised of medical, clinical and administrative personnel responded to the code.  The additional personnel were brought in from a Master Call Tree after collaboration between the ED Physician/Staff and Craig Loveless, the CEO of Prowers Medical Center.  Each department at the hospital has its own call tree with current contact information.

The medical response team prepared for receipt of patients to the PMC Emergency Department.  Prowers Medical Center received a total of five (5) patients related to the accident.  Four (4) of the patients were transferred to another healthcare facility and one (1) patient was admitted to Prowers Medical Center.

At the time of the accident, the PMC emergency room was staffed with one physician, two registered nurses and one unit secretary.  Patients are triaged for care depending on the extent of their injuries and the sequence by which they arrive at the hospital’s emergency room.  EMS communicates whether they have a red green or yellow patients – red meaning “critical” injuries; yellow meaning “moderate injuries”; and green meaning “minor injuries”.  Based on EMS personnel’s assessment on scene, PMC assigns a Team to each patient consisting of one doctor; two nurses, an RT person and recorder.  Based on their severity of injury and/or their illness a room is designated.  Once patient injuries have been identified by hospital personnel and they are stable, the Patients are moved to another location within the ED.  Patients are sometimes moved to another location, i.e. another exam room, Imaging department, etc. for additional testing and monitoring.  This allows PMC staff the ability to prepare for the next incoming casualty by assigning a Team for their care.  The emergency room was sent two red, two yellow and one green patient.

Four patients required care outside the services provided by Prowers Medical Center.  The ED operates under EMTALA guidelines and must find an accepting physician at a higher level of care medical center.  PMC maintains Transfer Agreements with outlying Trauma Centers to ensure timely coordination and continuity of care.

In this instance, as in others of a similar nature, family notification can come from several sources based on the circumstances.  Those are law enforcement, clergy, and coroner or hospital personnel at the patient’s request.  Despite the number of persons needing treatment, the resources of the hospital were not strained, as the emergency room was initially advised they would be receiving from 8 to 12 patients and the ER staff was available to receive the patients.  If there were ever greater numbers of injured, exceeding the limits of the ER staff or the hospital, PMC has memorandums of understanding  with both the City of Lamar and Lamar Community College to utilize the Community Building and LCC Wellness Center as alternate care sites.  PMC would mobilize supplies and staff to those locations to provide care based on injuries.

Hospital and emergency room staff are prepared to encounter such situations.  Emergency Preparedness plans are maintained and updated on an ongoing basis and hospital staff are required to go through training and mock drills at various times throughout the year.  PMC staff participates in drills both internally and externally with the coordination of City and County officials annually.

The hospital was able to function under the disaster conditions through the successful execution of a well-developed plan of action.  Thank you to our Healthcare Team for your hard work and dedication to provide quality healthcare.  We are proud of the response and participation that we received from our Team.

Information for this article was supplied by Karen Bryant, Chief Operating Officer for Prowers Medical Center and from questions submitted to the hospital on several specific protocols that were followed during treatment of patients from June 10th.

By Russ Baldwin

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