As always, horrific events such as the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon cause us to stop and take stock of our own circumstances.
Clearly, this is a senseless and cowardly act. It puts our own lives, and the lives of loved ones in a different perspective. The idea of how one’s life can change in an instant at the hands of others, bent on destruction, is always sobering. Obviously, our prayers and thoughts are with the survivors and their families. As has been reported in the news, it is clear that the resilience of the American people, especially in the Boston area, will help them to recover and move on from this event.
From the medical perspective, I often wonder how we would respond were an event of this magnitude to occur in our own area. The response in Boston is one of law enforcement on the scene, a coordinated EMS response, community volunteers, a well-run trauma system, and years of rehearsal. I believe that all of these elements exist in the Central New York region as well.
There is little doubt that our law enforcement agencies, be they local, county, or state, would respond in a coordinated fashion. We have seen this in past events in the Syracuse area. We see the excellent coordination of mass event gatherings in CNY in the many regional events such as the State Fair, Carrier Dome gatherings, Syracuse Jazz Fest and others. The ability to coordinate between agencies is well demonstrated in our region.
Our EMS personnel are well-trained. Care across communities is already coordinated with mutual aid response plans. The 911 center and county emergency response teams are well organized. Paid EMS staff exists in most of our communities. There is good coordination of specialized service such as air medical evacuation.
All of our hospitals routinely practice for disasters. While no actual disaster is ever exactly like the disaster drill, each disaster drill helps individuals to understand their roles, to learn team work, and to be prepared for whatever the next disaster sends our way, be it a natural disaster, chemical contamination, mass casualty incident, or terror event.
Our trauma team at University Hospital is always ready. We have ample expertise from emergency medicine staff to trauma surgeons, to specialty physicians, to the nurses and ancillary medical staff. Our ICU services are second to none in the region. We maintain the operating room staff, equipment, diagnostic equipment, and other resources necessary to respond to large scale events.
Finally, even in this Central New York competitive healthcare environment, we have also shown the ability for hospitals and providers to work together in times of demonstrated community need. It is not infrequent that multi-casualty incidents, albeit on a much smaller scale, have been managed in a coordinated fashion with all the hospitals in the region. We could count on everyone’s cooperation.
While we are all saddened by the events of Boston, we should all rest assured that, in this community, we would be well prepared to respond to a similar event. While we hope we never have to use these skills, we should all continue to practice, continue to know our roles in such an event, and be sure that the coordination and cooperation occurs, from law enforcement through to the operating rooms and the ICU, as well as among healthcare providers and between our healthcare institutions.