Pullman Regional Hospital is the Disaster Medical Coordination Center (DMCC) for the south sub-region of District 9, which includes Whitman, Asotin, Garfield, and Columbia counties. As DMCC, we are responsible for coordinating care for mass-casualty incidents and healthcare facility evacuations to ensure patients are placed into a facility that provides the appropriate level of care based on the patient’s needs as quickly as possible. (https://srhd.org/media/documents/Region-9-HCC-2018-Annual-Report.pdf).
On Sunday, February 10th, Jenny Thomas, R.N., Clinical Coordinator, received notice of a multi-vehicle accident North of Pullman on Highway 195. There were an estimated 8-10 patients needing care, with varying levels of injuries. Jenny quickly evaluated current staffing resources to identify how many patients we could handle and how many would need to be transferred to other facilities. After calling in backup staff and communicating with Gritman Medical Center and Whitman Hospital, it was decided that we would take three patients, Gritman would take 5, and Whitman would take 3-5. For the safety of our patients, and due to the fact that our Emergency Department was already at full capacity, it was then decided that the ED would go on “divert”, meaning any additional ambulance patients would be taken to the next closest facility, rather than Pullman Regional Hospital. Once the patients from the critical incident were treated and arrangements were made to transfer the two trauma patients to a higher level of care, the ED was taken off of divert, and resumed operations as normal.
Considering the circumstances, the events played out smoothly thanks to adequate staffing, having knowledge of the DMCC role from previous trainings, and thorough communication from everyone involved, including the ED team, Clinical Coordinator, Incident Command, and house supervisors at Gritman and Whitman.
Jenny says, “I would like to comment how proud I was to not only be a part of this event but also to witness the excellent work that our staff put in that day. We pulled together quickly and were successful because we were a team.”
Thank you to everyone involved.