BELL COUNTY (20 April 2013) While runners rest up for the first Army Marathon in Central Texas, emergency responders are inflating and filling a Mobile Medical Unit. "We are capable of handling anything from a blister to a cardiac arrest or major trauma should something happen to a runner or spectator in the area," said Kelly Stowell, Scott & White Trauma Program Nursing Director.
The Mobile Medical Unit (MMU), is part of the Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF) Region 7, which covers Central Texas. There are eight EMTF regions in Texas. The EMTF program came about two years ago after hurricane's Katrina and Ike blew through Texas. According to Stowell, when a disaster happens there is a local response. If they become overwhelmed, mutual aid is brought in from nearby cities. If assistance is still lacking, a regional response comes into play. "Now if it goes beyond a two to thee month recover, that is when FEMA will step in to assist," said Stowell.
Within the EMTF are nurse and ambulance strike teams. There is also the MMU and an Ambus, which is a multi-patient ambulance. "Ideally, we will just be taking care of patients with heat related illness, dehydration or muscular skeletal type of problems, said Stowell talking about the Army Marathon. "But in the event that there is something catastrophic, it can be a casualty receiving station for stabilization and then transport to the trauma center."
There is always the opportunities for unexpected things to happen, said Stowell. And Boston is a prime example. "They probably had something set up similar to this because they were able to stabilize those patients right away, control bleeding, start an IV, manage airways and get those patients to the trauma centers. This played a very vital role for the survival of those patients because that first hour of care you receive is so important."
The EMTF team spent the day setting up multiple pods for the MMU. The MMU is an expandable and scalable resource. The pod set up for the race can hold ten to fourteen patients. Multi pods can be added at any time to take of anywhere from 80 to 100 patients. The pods have air conditioning and heat and come in all shapes and sizes to hold emergency equipment you would normally see in an ER. "It's very similar to what the military uses for their front line medical stations overseas," said Stowell.
Scott & White Hospital helped support this effort with their staff and supplies, but they are not the only medical facility that has contributed. "It is multi-jurisdictional," said Stowell. "All hospitals in our region participate with this to some extent. This is actually the first time we have staged them with the full team (physicians and nurses)," said Stowell.
It is hard to get to the scene within a couple of hours if called out, said Stowell. Generally, EMTF can have resources on the scene in 10 to 12 hours fully staffed.
There will be nine water stations over the 26.2-mile route for the Army Marathon. The stations will have defibrillators, first aid kits and certified CPR personnel. There will also be ambulances on stand by along the route. Staffing of the MMU will consist of 25 to 30 medical and logistical support personnel. "I am pretty excited," said Stowell. We have done a lot of work, a lot of planning, and now we get to see all efforts come to fruition."