Around 12:15 a.m. on August 22, a train arriving at the 69th Street terminal collided with a stationary, unoccupied train, sending the train operator and passengers ricocheting about the car and injuring 32 people. PPMC’s Level 1 Trauma Center received two passengers and the train operator, while HUP admitted another two passengers.

“We saw injuries that were fortunately very minor – musculoskeletal injuries and facial fractures,” Patrick Kim, MD, director of the trauma program, said in an interview with 6ABC. “We were able to prepare in time and really render the best possible care given the circumstances.”

How was Presby’s trauma team able to prepare so quickly? Haven’t disaster movies and hospital dramas taught us that mass casualty incidents (MCIs) are utter chaos? While FEMA has guidelines for preparing for and responding to large-scale emergencies (terror attacks, natural disasters, etc.), and EMS teams and hospitals routinely practice effective coordination techniques, at PPMC, there’s more to preparing for MCIs than rehearsals scheduled weeks ahead of time or lectures about hypothetical scenarios.

Every two weeks, a Trauma Center unit receives a call to attend a patient with an acute traumatic injury in need of immediate medical attention. The page sounds exactly like a normal trauma page, so staff members believe they are attending to a real patient – until they spot the simulator smuggled in by staff from the Penn Medicine Clinical Simulation Center.  These surprise exercises last 20 to 30 minutes.  The goal is to help physicians react confidently in a real incident.

Read more in the Presby Bulletin.

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