Good to know, sad to see: Hospitals in convention cities brace for calamities

emergency-services_overviewThey’re stocked with sufficient material to respond to days of crisis. Key personnel have been told to stay in town and be at the ready. They’ve developed response plans and drilled on readiness. It’s a sad reflection of the horrible headlines of recent days─from France, Dallas, and Orlando, and tragically too many more locales─that hospitals and public health officials in Cleveland and Philadelphia are preparing for the worst-case medical emergencies as Republicans and Democrats get ready to launch their political conventions this week and next in those two cities.

A top doc at the Cleveland Clinic told Stat, the online health information site,  “We know there’s probably going to be some public disturbance that will occur at the RNC. We have to be able to think in advance of how we’d be able to handle a number of protesters who might need assistance, or police who might need assistance.”

His counterpart at a leading emergency care facility in Philly, site of the Democratic national convention, observed: “Even at a major trauma center, getting five or six critically injured patients is an extraordinary undertaking. It’s labor- and resource- intensive to care for just one patient—so when you multiply that by five, or 20, or 200, you can very quickly overwhelm even an expert center.”

Those remarks may resonate with special pain after the attack in Nice, France, in which scores were killed by a terrorist in a truck; dozens more remain in critical condition at the city’s leading hospitals, where medical staff no doubt were set not for catastrophic conditions but more for treating those involved in simpler revels on a national holiday.

I wrote recently that many lessons could be learned from the terrible Orlando shootings, which occurred near to one of that city’s flagship trauma centers.

I know all of us fervently hope that the medical talent in the American convention cities faces no grave tests, and they spend their time handling only routine medical episodes.  Fingers crossed.

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