By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Taking care of your health is important as we’re bracing for Hurricane Sandy. Medical teams are gearing up. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has an exclusive look at preparations taking place at a medical command center in South Jersey, where emergency response to the storm will be coordinated.
“Our primary responsibility includes 20 some hospitals, 70 long term care facilities, EMS Agencies,” describes Robert Saunders, Emergency Preparedness Manager at Cooper and Medical Coordination Center. “We plan for the worst case scenario.”
With charts to map potential casualties and fatalities, and sophisticated computer systems, the command center will manage keeping people safe and treating those in need.
“Flying debris can cause a lot of problems. You can see penetrating trauma, as well as blunt trauma. So trauma is a big one we’re thinking about,” says Dr. Rick Hong, Medical Director of the Southern New Jersey Regional Medical Coordination Center.
The emergency room at Cooper University Hospital is geared up for any trauma cases. The generators are checked to make sure they’ll have power, and extra equipment is moved into place, including back boards to transport patients.
Hospitals are getting ready, but doctors say people need get prepared at home too, especially if they need to evacuate.
“I think it’s very important that individuals, especially with chronic medical conditions, always have a preparation kit ready to go. Specifically, [that they] have their medications with them,” urges Dr. Ryan Sexton, an emergency department physician at Cooper University Hospital.
New Jersey has a website, Register Ready, for residents with special medical needs, so emergency responders have your information ahead of time.
FDA Hurricane Health Safety – www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064572.htm#
FEMA Hurricane Information – www.ready.gov/hurricanes
Special Needs NJ Medical Registry – www.registerready.nj.gov
Red Cross Philadelphia – www.redcross.org/pa/philadelphia