“We all worked really well together. Everything we’d prepared for became a reality, and every person rose to the occasion.”
The freestanding Emergency Department at Carolinas HealthCare System-Huntersville recently rose to the challenge of its first mass injury event. When a late-August bus accident in Iredell County left a group of army reservists injured, the Huntersville Emergency Department (ED) successfully treated many of them, thanks to thorough preparedness and seamless collaboration.
When Lisa Alexander, nurse manager of the Huntersville ED, received the call alerting her to the bus accident, she and the ED team sprang into action. After ensuring they had adequate staffing, they gathered appropriate supplies and equipment, including additional stretchers for the patients that would soon arrive.
The Huntersville ED staff was in the midst of what is called a “code triage” – an external disaster that in this case was the influx of a number of injured patients. This was a first for the Huntersville ED, which has been open for only a little more than a year.
“It was the biggest inflow of injured patients we’ve ever had at one time,” said Alexander. “But once we got the call, we prepared ourselves. By the time the reservists arrived, we were ready for them.”
As the 15 reservists arrived, staff began to rapidly assess and respond to their needs – including medication distribution, radiology and trauma evaluations performed by Eric Brown, MD, medical director of the Huntersville ED.
Thanks to the preparation, teamwork and collaboration of the staff, all the reservists were treated and released before the day ended.
“We all worked really well together,” said Alexander. “Everything we’d prepared for became a reality, and every person rose to the occasion.”
Monifa Drayton, administrator of Huntersville Healthcare Pavilion, said it showed firsthand the reality that, in the vast majority of circumstances, a freestanding ED can provide the same level of care as a hospital-based ED.
“Most people don’t realize that we handle all the things a hospital emergency department does,” said Drayton. “This event was a great way to show that.”