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It started off as a great local human interest story; would-be heroes deploy in the wake of Katrina:
Med 1 is the Carolinas Medical Center's prototype mobile hospital. It is the only facility of its kind in the world and will bring help to those who are so desperate. The tractor trailer that houses Med-1 opens to a 120 bed hospital.Sounds like they thought through all the possibilities... except one.
The 75 doctors and nurses who will staff it are expecting to be sent to the outskirts of New Orleans, but they don?t know that for sure.
The staff has been trained for this kind of emergency for two years. CMC, medics, doctors and nurses from other hospitals in North Carolina have volunteered for this mission.
A contingent of S.W.A.T. officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are also going down to protect them.
Because Med 1 immediately became one of those early stories of "failure" from a hyperventilating media seeking the dark clouds even after the storm was gone:
Volunteer physicians are pouring in to care for the sick, but red tape is keeping hundreds of others from caring for Hurricane Katrina survivors while health problems rise.Of course, in order to be fully outraged by this "failure" we must ignore the fact that where they were "stranded" was actually ground zero for Katrina. And there the team found their calling, as Dr Stanley Tillinghast, M.D. tells us (along with some other crucial details CNN missed) here:
Among the doctors stymied from helping out are 100 surgeons and paramedics in a state-of-the-art mobile hospital, developed with millions of tax dollars for just such emergencies, marooned in rural Mississippi.
"The bell was rung, the e-mails were sent off. ...We all got off work and deployed," said one of the frustrated surgeons, Dr. Preston "Chip" Rich of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"We have tried so hard to do the right thing. It took us 30 hours to get here," he said. That government officials can't straighten out the mess and get them assigned to a relief effort now that they're just a few miles away "is just mind-boggling," he said.
The North Carolina mobile hospital stranded in Mississippi was developed through the Office of Homeland Security after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With capacity for 113 beds, it is designed to handle disasters and mass casualties.
Equipment includes ultrasound, digital radiology, satellite Internet, and a full pharmacy, enabling doctors to do most types of surgery in the field, including open-chest and abdominal operations.
It travels in a convoy that includes two 53-foot trailers, which as of Sunday afternoon was parked on a gravel lot 70 miles north of New Orleans because Louisiana officials for several days would not let them deploy to the flooded city, Rich said.
The Med-1 team was ready to go just after the storm; an agreement between the governor of North Carolina and Governor Blanco of Louisiana was prepared and faxed to Governor Blanco. 24 hours elapsed and the agreement was not signed. The team was ready to leave on Friday, September 2, and the agreement was not signed. The team was then federalized by FEMA and ordered to deploy. They made it as far as Mississippi?still no agreement. So instead of heading for Louisiana, Med-1 came to Bay St. Louis, where it serves as a temporary replacement for Hancock Memorial while the latter is out of commission.And here is one result of that "failure":
He was 12 years old and he had been riding around this destroyed town on a four-wheeler. He flipped it Tuesday night and hurt his neck bad.Doctor Tillinghast's post (indeed, his entire blog) is a must-read. He's a physician from California who took it upon himself to go to the hurricane zone and help in whatever way he could, and he's photoblogging his mission. But there's one aspect of his story on Med 1 that should catch the attention of people everywhere - doctors, politicians, emergency officials, or anyone concerned with surviving a natural or man-made catastrophe.
The ambulance got him to the mobile hospital that Carolinas Medical Center had set up two days before.
His throat was blocked. He wasn't breathing.
The medical team got him up on a table. Dr. Tom Blackwell got a breathing tube through the gunk in the boy's throat.
They got his lungs going again and they brought in a helicopter and had him airlifted to the hospital in Jackson. The boy survived.
"If we were not here?" Blackwell said Wednesday. "Dead kid. No question about it."
How did this marvel come to be? Dr. Tom Blackwell of Carolinas Medical Center had it already designed after prolonged research and analysis, when FEMA expressed an interest. According to Mr. Taylor, FEMA was expecting a very long process to acquire such capability, when Dr. Blackwell offered to fax the complete proposal. This during a conference call; and apparently Dr. Blackwell?s offer was met first with stunned silence, then with an astonished ?What did you say??What he'd said was $1.5 million - and the reason it stunned the federales was because they aren't used to dealing with numbers that small. So while CNN bemoans the fact that the "taxpayer funded" field hospital didn't make it to New Orleans where their reporters were, ponder this: how many such facilities are available in your state? And given the modest price tag, why so few?
Of course, your state and its neighbors might be immune to natural disaster or terrorist attack, but were I some bright young politician trying to establish myself in this post-Katrina world, I think I'd have my team contacting the folks who might know about how to get the ball rolling on such a project for my home district. If I'm not such a person, I'd probably be on the phone to my local representative early Monday morning - or emailing even sooner. And if you want to find local experts, you might want to see if there aren't a few veterans of the Iraq war in your local Guard unit who also might happen to be doctors, nurses, or other medical personnel who've deployed to combat zones over the past couple years - there's a good chance there are some, and they'd recognize Med 1 at a glance. I did; it's a slightly modified version of what we had in just about every camp in Iraq. The folks who staffed those facilities will have a lot of expertise to offer for the development of such a "tactical trauma center" - there's nothing like a combat zone for advancing emergency medical knowledge and experience.
Or you could wait until after the next disaster, and maybe you'll get mentioned on CNN.
CNN screwed the pooch again?
Say it ain't so ! ! !Posted by SSG_K at September 18, 2005 03:56 AM
Great piece Greyhawk. You can bet I am going to contact my representative. We already have Al-Qaeda cells in my state. We also have some things of interest to them.
As for CNN, so what's new? You'd think they'd get the hint sooner or later. They must be slow learners!Posted by devildog6771 at September 19, 2005 02:55 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)