East Texas emergency responders train for mass burn scenario
An exercise like this is especially important for a region like East Texas, where there are no burn hospitals.
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - How would East Texas first responders, hospitals, and others respond to a situation in which multiple people have suffered burns requiring specialized medical care?
Answering that question was the goal of a mass burn surge drill hosted by the Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council (RAC-G) in Tyler on Tuesday morning. The RAC is a non-profit that links hospitals, EMS and first responders.
According to Hospital Preparedness Manager Michael Johnson, an exercise like this is especially important for a region like East Texas, where there are no burn hospitals.
“Because we do not have a burn hospital here in Tyler, we’re going to have to count on other facilities outside our region to be able to care for those patients,” Johnson said. “But if in the event that we don’t have enough room to send them anywhere else, it’s a challenge for them to decide how they are going to care for them.
While acknowledging creating a burn center in East Texas will be no easy or fast task, UT Health East Texas trauma surgeon Luis Fernandez believes the short-term answer is educating healthcare workers on how to care for burn patients.
“We could educate our nurses, our residents, our physicians, paramedics, people that during an emergency of that magnitude would be called in, to have the basic fundamental knowledge so we can all communicate effectively and provide the best care for those patients,” he said.
Currently, the closest burn hospitals to East Texas are in Dallas, Houston, and Shreveport, but Fernandez says an open bed isn’t always guaranteed.
“The beds they have available are often occupied. So, their surge capacity is quite limited.”
And for that reason, people like Johnson believe East Texas is in desperate need of a burn hospital.
“It’s not just the people here, it’s other people at other facilities I have spoken with. Everyone here sees a need for a burn facility here in this region,” Johnson said.
Over 70 people from multiple medical facilities, including long-term care, EMS, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, blood centers, the Texas Division Emergency Management (TDEM), the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and local health departments took part in Tuesday’s tabletop exercise.
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