We are not prepared

Disaster Medicine workshop Saturday in Edmonds
Apr 27, 2017
Dr. Mary Jo Kintner

The Cascadia Rising exercise last June involved many response agencies, and 23,000 participants tested local, state and federal disaster response to a 9.0 earthquake, for which we are at risk.

Conclusion? Washington state is not ready.

Supplies are at best two weeks or more away. Damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure will take months to years to return to normal. About half of the hospitals up and down the I-5 corridor will be damaged, disrupting patient care. Emergency lines will be overwhelmed and unable to answer thousands of calls for help.

We will be on our own for an unknown period of time.

With limited staff and scarce supplies, how will the sick and wounded be comforted and cared for? How will the remaining useable medical supplies be divided to care for the many in need?

No one wants to even think about rationing medical care, but that is what will happen in a major disaster. It could be a contagion or deadly virus, volcanic explosion, earthquake and tsunami, or terrorism.

Hurricane Katrina was a tragic example of what can happen in the absence of pre-thinking and planning for scarce resources in the harsh aftermath of a catastrophic event. Our focus during a disaster is on doing the most good for the most people, making the most of limited supplies, staff and space.

This change in approach to caregiving is called “Crisis Standard of Care” (CSC) – guidelines developed before a disaster intended to offer the best care possible to the most in need who can reasonably survive when resources, staff and space are in short supply.

Who gets the ventilator?

Who gets the oxygen?

Who gets the pain medication or antibiotic, blood transfusion, surgical care?

Healthcare providers and emergency managers around the state and the country are working to develop these guidelines. We, our communities, should help guide and possibly influence the process if possible. We will be the ones affected.

On Saturday, April 29, the Disaster Medicine Project will hold a community workshop at Edmonds’ North Sound Church, 404 Bell St. Registration is at 8 a.m., and the program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Please RSVP and join us in a community conversation. Our goal is to bring awareness to this issue, Crisis Standards of Care, to enable realistic expectations of how care will be handled in disaster, as well as to provide an avenue for opinions and considerations to be voiced in a safe, facilitated group dialogue.

The Disaster Medicine Project is a volunteer organization affiliated with Edmonds-based Operation Military Family Cares. We are committed to whole community disaster preparedness and are actively involved in over 20 projects in disaster-based education, training, planning and engagement involving our public and medical community.

For more information or to register, contact me at jokintner@gmail.com or 206-734- 1144.

Dr. Mary Jo Kintner is with the Disaster Medicine Project.


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