Paramedics come through at major accident
When code “external triage” went out on the radio, it meant a large group of people was in need of emergency medical care.
Ten people were injured July 11 in a three-car wreck near the Lake Tahoe Airport. The code meant paramedics should bring the most seriously injured to the hospital first.
Because of precise cooperation between South Lake Tahoe Fire and Barton Memorial Hospital emergency, all 10 victims – five male, five female – were transported to the hospital within 35 minutes.
A week later, two passengers involved in the accident remain hospitalized at Washoe Medical Center in Reno. On Thursday, Henry Baker, 76, of Sacramento was in serious condition. His wife, Lydia, 62, was in critical condition.
The eight other people injured in the wreck have been treated and released from Barton Memorial Hospital.
South Lake Tahoe Fire battalion Chief Scott Douglass took charge of the situation and coordinated workers from nine agencies to get the job done. Between 1:14 p.m. and 1:52 p.m. the injured were transported to Barton Memorial Hospital.
“The challenge was trying to create order out of chaos,” said South Tahoe Fire Incident Commander Scott Douglass. “The incident was pretty complex. There were two extrications. Dealing with additional ambulances and a lot of people, that just adds to the chaos.”
Douglass said injuries he observed at the scene included lacerations and back, hip and pelvic damage.
The patients arrived at the hospital and filled 10 of the 13 beds in the emergency room. Two of the 10, the Bakers, were airlifted to Washoe Medical Center.
“We have a plan, every department in the hospital follows a plan. It went very well,” said Mary Flores, a nurse who is manager of the emergency department. “We just had a practice drill in June for this so it was all fresh in everybody’s mind.”
By the time the injured came in, five doctors and two surgeons were ready to go and all the needed medical equipment was at hand.
“It’s all about communication,” Flores said. “I think (the accident) is evidence why it is important we have practice drills. In Tahoe, with all the tourists, something like this can happen at any time.”
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