Monday, October 29, 2001

Trailer ready for large disaster

By Lew Moores
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMI TOWNSHIP — It is compact — just 14 feet long and 7 feet wide — but it fairly bulges with equipment, a cornucopia of medical supplies. Enough oxygen to simultaneously treat more than 50 patients at the scene of an accident. Enough intravenous supplies to attend to more than 50 casualties with IV starts. Backboards for 36. Sixty cervical collars for adults; another 30 for pediatric patients.

        It is called a Mass Casualty Incident Medical Re sponse Unit, and it belongs to the Miami Township Fire & EMS in Clermont County. It is the only unit of its type north of the Ohio River. Two similar units are located at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

        “If something were to happen right now, it's ready to go,” said Dan Mack, the fire department's Assistant Chief for EMS.

        While it seems fortuitous that such a trailer would be available in Southwest Ohio, given the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 and its aftermath, the real impetus for acquiring the trailer and equipment was the threat of bus crashes, toxic fumes in buildings, tornadoes and other disasters.

        “The timing just ended up with us having it when all this occurred,” said Kim Laing, community relations coordinator for the township.

        The Cincinnati chapter of the American Red Cross, which uses a medical assistance team to respond to incidents involving a number of injuries, is taken with the idea of having the trailer available.

        “It completely enhances our ability to respond to any large-scale disaster,” said Bob Armstrong, disaster specialist with the Red Cross. “The supplies on it, as well as the manpower that would come with it from Miami Township, increases the number of victims that we can treat at one time. It makes us more prepared for a large-scale incident that hopefully will never happen.”

        Because it is a trailer, it can never mechanically break down; even in a pinch, a pickup truck could be enlisted to tow it to the scene of a mass casualty event. And it was relatively inexpensive; about $11,000 for both the trailer and its supplies.

        In addition to oxygen and IVs, the trailer carries splints, bandages, dressings, cold and hot packs, airway supplies, blankets, a generator, floodlights and command center materials.

        “With incidents involving a lot of injuries, then a trailer like this is very useful,” said Chief Mack.

        “But the idea behind the unit was more for, say, a school bus crash or a tornado, or fumes in a building,” said Chief Mack. “Obviously, our main concern is serving the citizens of Miami Township. But we feel it's important to be good neighbors, too.”


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