eeka and others die of injuries, are rushed to hospital and treated anyway

So, as planned, I participated in Operation Poseidon on Sunday morning. I did learn a lot, and the equipment and uniforms and everything were quite cool, but the whole thing really amounted to a waste of tax dollars.

The simulation was very poorly done. We all had name tags listing our symptoms and our vital signs. We were instructed to act out what was on the tag and not to add anything else. There was no instruction though regarding whether we were supposed to otherwise behave as we would in a disaster, or what. So, when the bomb went off, all of the people who were "oriented" and "able to walk" ran out of the mall. Very few people tried to get any of the seriously injured people out of the mall, and very few people rendered first aid to injured people or tried to flag down the emergency personnel. Well, a lot people would scream "help" and "ow" when the personnel walked by, but I only saw a couple people actually doing things like running up to a firefighter and shouting that someone was having trouble breathing.

All of us were put through the radioactive screening and decontamination process before any injuries were triaged. It took me about an hour to get through the first screening. By then, the huge contusions they'd painted all over my neck and chest would have bled out. No, actually, since I was able to walk, I would have bolted out of there and gotten myself to a hospital, but we weren't allowed to do this (other "victims" who were supposed to have fled the mall and walked to a hospital were planted at each hospital nearby, but it was only maybe 20 out of 150 victims who were staged as self-transports).

When we finally got treated and sent to the Royal Sonesta for lunch, I heard about a lot of infuriating wastes of money and equipment. Some individuals at various hospitals said they'd received actual X-rays and CT scans, which was clearly not necessary in simulating treatment.

I did learn that a suprising number of people have little clue about what constitutes a life-threatening injury. A lot of people were trying to push in front of the lines because someone around them had a situation such as an abrasion to the bone (with safe vital signs). A good chunk of the volunteers were healthcare and emergency services personnel, yet no one was explaining to these people that someone with safe vital signs and bleeding on an extremity was pretty low on the priority list when there were others with failing vitals. I have no doubt that people would have taken more of a leadership role in a real emergency, but it didn't happen yesterday.

There were plans for people who are bilingual to speak only their other language and to pretend not to speak English, but a lot of bilingual people didn't hear about the plan. I only encountered one person who was speaking another language (Farsi!). I didn't hear how she or anyone else fared in terms of receiving adapted instructions from personnel or getting a translator at the hospital.

The Globe and Herald have two very different takes on the disaster. Just as I would have suspected, The Herald praises emergency services for everything running smoothly, and The Globe reports that the emergency personnel let everyone die. The truth of course is somewhere in the middle, like it usually is.


Lyss said...

was the mall open- if so, what did the shoppers think?
so, basically, the ER bumped actual patients to give xrays and etc. to people with faux injuries...?
how does one get involved in playing a corpse at this type of event? (I've been wondering that for a long time)

eeka said...

No, the bomb went off at 6:30am. Everyone was out by 10 or 11 or so.

The ERs were overstaffed in order to make the drill work. There were employees from various departments who were chosen to be representatives and trained for the disaster drill who were gathered specifically in the area where they were sending disaster people. Part of the disaster plan where I was, Cambridge Hospital, was to train people from housekeeping, dietary, admin, etc. to do things like get personal information and medical history from all of the patients, take vital signs, etc. The section where they were sending disaster people had one attending physician, one nurse, and a bunch of other employees who would normally be doing paperwork or mopping or whatnot.

As far as the places using x-ray equipment and stuff, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Cambridge Street was closed off: