Pennsylvania

Officials: Large crisis in region would require outside help

'It would certainly be a strain on the system'

Three hospitals in Las Vegas were flooded with patients after more than 500 people were wounded during the attack on a crowded music festival Sunday night.

Emergency responders in eastern Pennsylvania said if something like that happened in their area, they'd likely be pulling help from elsewhere.

"It would certainly be a strain on the system," said John Kloss of the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council, which serves Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.

The Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council includes more than 140 EMS agencies, ten 911 centers and more than 450 EMS vehicles, which offer transport to 17 different hospitals.

Although they seem like big numbers, in a crisis like the one in Las Vegas, it's likely not enough.

"We would be the first to seek outside help," Kloss said, adding that there's a system in place that automatically dispatches ambulances based on initial assessment.

In this area. there's also immediate collaboration with area hospitals.

"Each would provide the bed availability for their ER, suites, and other components of the hospital," Kloss said.

The incident commander then decides which patients go where.

"The idea is not to overwhelm the trauma centers with folks that may not need to be there, and bring in the other facilities to be able to hand the rest," said Dr. Robert Barraco, a trauma surgeon at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

He said the hospital holds disaster drills several times a year to practice calling in extra help and coordinating care.

"We have a mass casualty disaster plan, where hospital resources and personnel are called," he said. "Day or night, that system still is in play."

The hospital said that in a situation such as Las Vegas, blood centers would be mobilized, too.


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