SEPT. 13, 2001 | University Hospital at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is ready for large disasters or emergencies when they occur. In addition to treating patients during crises, UAMS trains emergency physicians. Barry Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the College of Medicine. He comments, “Emergency physicians are ideally suited for disasters because they have enormous breadth of knowledge and a great facility with procedures, can make decisions rapidly, and are able to improvise when short on supplies.” Links on This Page Department link: http://www.uams.edu/ems/
In an event such as the Tuesday attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., University Hospital’s Emergency Department is ready to treat hundreds of patients if necessary.
The National Disaster Medical System notified University Hospital to stand by to receive patients from New York or other attack locations if necessary, according to Rebecca Liggin, M.D., chair of the hospital’s House Disaster Committee.
”UAMS was able to rapidly assess how many patients we would be able to accommodate and what resources would be needed. We were able to give
When large emergencies occur, ”we take as many of the severely injured as we possibly can,” according to Lynn Wallace, R.N., CEN, head nurse manager for the Emergency Department, or ER.
In a natural disaster or a large accident, emergency workers on the scene rank victims according to the severity of their injuries. Then they notify University Hospital that they are sending patients who are “red,” “yellow,” “green,” or “black.”
Red signifies a life-threatening or limb-threatening injury.
Yellow signifies urgent need for medical care.
Green means the patient is stable and could wait as long as 24 hours for treatment.
Black means the victim has no chance of survival.
Once victims reach the dock of University Hospital’s Emergency Department, nurses and physicians are standing by to reassess their injuries. In a large-scale emergency, red patients go directly to the ER while yellow patients go to a treatment area in a nearby wide hallway. Green patients go to the hospital’s Short Stay Unit.
The hospital routinely stages emergency drills to be sure that employees are ready in a crisis. It has written plans for different large-scale emergencies; special kits for victims and for different hospital workers; and a system for calling off-duty health care professionals into the Emergency Department.
”Once we had 27 Emergency Department nurses respond,” Wallace says. “We’re all humans; we all have families that we hate to leave in the middle of a tornado or something like that. But we take care of business.”
There are specific jobs for employees in Physical Plant, Housekeeping, Telecommunications, public relations, and other departments. There is even a locked metal box with supplies for treating victims of an accident at a nuclear power plant.
If many emergency patients arrive at once, the hospital may discharge some patients, transfer others from the Intensive Care Unit, or postpone scheduled surgeries. For patients who have severe burns, the hospital may treat urgent medical problems and then transfer them to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, an affiliate of UAMS with a burn center.
The Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, another affiliate of UAMS, also treats many patients during disasters.
After a disaster, helping victims and their families recover emotionally can be the hardest job.
”Without the chaplains and social workers, we couldn’t do what we need to do,” Carol Murry, director of critical care nursing for University Hospital and interim director of the Emergency Department, says.
Top: Emergency nurse Candice Marshall, R.N., stands in the long hallway that University Hospital converts to a treatment area for “yellow” patients in urgent need of medical care. The hallway is large enough to accommodate more than 100 patients. (Amy Theriac, UAMS Media Services)
Second: The Emergency Department at University Hospital is always ready for an emergency. (Amy Theriac, UAMS Media Servicess)
Third: University Hospital workers practice for triage, the process of ranking victims so that the most severely injured receive treatment first, in a past drill. (UAMS Media Services)
In addition to treating patients during crises, UAMS trains emergency physicians. Barry Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., is chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the College of Medicine. He comments, “Emergency physicians are ideally suited for disasters because they have enormous breadth of knowledge and a great facility with procedures, can make decisions rapidly, and are able to improvise when short on supplies.”
Links on This Page
Department link: http://www.uams.edu/ems/