When disaster struck, the hospital — and its people — were there | CraigDailyPress.com

When disaster struck, the hospital — and its people — were there

The Memorial Regional Hospital at Craig
Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

The night of November 17 was chilly in Moffat County.

But, when it mattered most, Craig’s emergency healthcare providers had ice in their veins.

When a jeep driving eastbound on Highway 40 near the Elkhead turn drifted into oncoming traffic around 5:30 p.m. that night, colliding with a passenger bus and causing the latter to go off the road while killing the driver of the jeep at the scene, it was a tragedy immediately. A man was dead — a member of a family, a friend to more.

But that more tragedy didn’t follow, in the form of about a dozen patients who needed emergency care after being involved in the crash, is a miracle made possible in part by the good service of the emergency medical services, who arrived quickly on scene, and the hospital to which they transported their charges.

“We were fortunate this happened right around shift-change,” said Memorial Regional Health interim CEO Jennifer Riley via email. “We had a lot of staff already onsite. Day shift stayed on site.”

That meant, Riley explained, that five ER nurses, two techs who were on and another who came in and a physician were joined by two trauma teams and a trauma surgeon, as well as four radiology techs, two cardiopulmonary staff, two lab staff and two registration staff.

“Our team functioned as a TEAM,” Riley wrote.

Early communications from the scene on Highway 40 indicated just a pair of critical patients, along with several less serious cases. Eventually, six patients arrived via two ambulances, and, Riley said, over the course of the evening, five more patients arrived at the hospital from the accident.

A Steamboat Springs Transit bus crashed the night of Nov. 17, resulting in multiple injuries and the death of a 39-year-old Craig man.
Cuyler Meade/Craig Press

Beyond that, there were those patients who were unrelated to what had already been termed a “mass casualty incident,” or MCI.

“During an MCI, you have to be prepared for taking care of other patients who come to the ER,” Riley said. “The staff handled those patients as well.”

By the end of the night, the count the hospital provided showed 71 X-rays, 13 CT scans, “countless” blood draws and more tests besides.

Fortunately, none of the MCI patients’ injuries required admission or transfer.

Dr. Renee Carson was the lead physician at the ER, joined by Dr. Dana Miller, a trauma surgeon. Kyle Miller was the Administrator on Call.

“The staff was phenomenal,” Riley said. “Communication internally and externally with the first responder agencies was excellent. Don’t underestimate MRH’s ability to respond during a crisis. We might be small, but our response is mighty.”

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