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“Everyone came together right away”; How Stanford response teams treated SFO plane-crash victims

I was in Wisconsin visiting family when I received the news from a friend. "Plane crash at SFO. Airport shut down," the instant message chirped at me. "Aren't you flying back tomorrow?" Shocked, I went online to find out exactly what happened at the airport I've traveled in and out of countless times.

Closer to home, I would find out later, teams of Stanford physicians, nurses, technicians, and other specialists had also heard the news and were jumping into action. Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital were among nine hospitals in the Bay Area called on to evaluate and treat the crash victims; 55 passengers from Asiana Airlines Flight 214 were ultimately brought here.

Today, two of my colleagues provide details of what transpired Saturday afternoon:

Officials at Stanford Medicine quickly activated the hospital command center after receiving word of the incoming casualties. They initiated a "code triage," bringing together cross-functional teams from emergency, trauma, operations, security and more to safely and efficiently coordinate the expected surge of patients.

Eric A. Weiss, MD, medical director for the Office of Emergency Management, said the mobilization was rapid. "Within 30 minutes we had admitted or discharged most of the patients who were previously being treated in the emergency department, and we mobilized over 150 health-care providers dedicated to responding to the airplane tragedy," said Weiss, who is also an associate professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine...

To evaluate and treat the influx of trauma patients from the crash, the hospitals mobilized seven trauma teams with fully trained surgeons and five perioperative teams. "We also implemented our rapid admission and rapid discharge plan, plus we set up an expansive and well-staffed triage area outside the emergency department to accommodate the surge of additional patients," Weiss said.

Of the 55 patients evaluated and treated, 11 were admitted to Stanford Hospital and seven to Packard Children's. "The injuries were of varying degrees," said David Spain, MD. As chief of trauma and critical care surgery at Stanford, Spain was already on site when patients started arriving by ambulance and helicopter.

Despite the severity of the situation, people on the scene report that the mood in the emergency department was calm. And the article notes it's clear the hours of disaster planning and training paid off for the medical teams. "Everyone came together right away to deal with a rapidly evolving situation and do what they do best, which is save lives," said Brandon Bond, administrative director of the Office of Emergency Management for the two hospitals.

Previously: Following Boston bombings, “there’s nothing else in the world I would rather do now” than go into medicine“We are not innocents:” What prepared medical professionals to treat Boston bombing victims and New Stanford Hospital team ready to mobilize for disaster relief
Photo by ArtisticOperations

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