Edmonds is home to the Disaster Medicine Project, an organization seeking to improve hospital and provider response during disasters. Edmonds resident Robert Mitchell, M.D., spearheads the all-volunteer organization and provided this note seeking focus group members interested in planning how communities care for sick and injured people in times of disaster:
It’s not sexy … It’s not exciting – What is Palliative Care? What are Crisis Standards of Care?
In the wake of a catastrophic disaster, such as the much anticipated Cascadia Subduction Zone megaquake, the objective of the huge regional exercise last summer, our hospitals will not be able to provide the type and amount of medical care we are accustomed to receiving and expect every day. Facing severe shortages, tough decisions about how to allocate scarce supplies and personnel will have to be made. How will this come about? It could be weeks before any relief is in sight. What will happen? Who is planning for this?
Take a moment and imagine…
Who gets the oxygen? the ventilator? the intravenous fluid? the blood transfusion? the pain medication? the hospital bed? the operating room? the antibiotic? the CT scan? the batteries running medical devices? the attention and care of limited staff? – Will it be you? – Your loved ones? – Maybe not.
How can we manage the scarce resources remaining and available in the aftermath and achieve the most good? How will we care for those who are dying from trauma received from falling debris or building collapse, or those severely burned in resulting fires, or those with pre-existing severe chronic illness for whom resources cannot be spared? Who and what can we dedicate to care for those who will not survive when those who can “reasonably” survive will be the main emphasis of resources and staffing? It will not be as simple as “sick – not so sick”, a criteria often used to select those who get treated first in hospitals or transported first in emergency rescue settings.
These are a few of the questions a group of citizens from our Edmonds community as well as in King County and nationally are wrestling with. The Disaster Medicine Project, a locally-forged and all-volunteer citizens’ group deeply involved in regional planning and disaster response efforts for these potential situations since 2012, is driving this discussion and hopes to gather local insight, opinion and input from the Edmonds community in the coming months through a series of facilitated focus group gatherings. The idea is to gather and share the information obtained with those building response plans.
The topics on the table for discussion will be: Palliative Care-Who and How? and What does it mean, “Crisis Standards of Care”, and how will it affect me? The reality is the information gathered from such discussions regarding our community’s expectations versus the bottom line of response capability will add only a small piece to the very complex puzzle of disaster preparation, intended to assist those planning the recovery. That said, there are few avenues where this kind of community awareness and discussion is encouraged and can happen.