Mass Casualty

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Like many hospitals in the world, Mondays are typically the busiest here. It makes it even busier when a 25-seat public vehicle carrying 12 passengers and 60 bags of Betel Nut collides with a tractor trailer on a bridge near Kudjip (pictured above). This was an opportunity for our hospital to show its true quality. While the driver of the tractor trailer and one passenger died at the scene, 11 critical patients were carried simultaneously to our seven-bed ER. Over the next several hours, I saw staff from nearly all parts of the hospital and nursing school; from cleaners to nurse anesthetists, employees on-duty and off-duty; work together to save the lives of each of these patients.

Some of the critically injured included…

·       Four patients with severe head injuries, two requiring holes drilled in their heads for drainage of intracranial bleeding. This procedure is incredibly complicated in our setting without a CT scan or a neurosurgeon, but our general surgeons do a fantastic job.

·       Two patients with chest injuries requiring chest tubes.

·       A patient with a spinal fracture.

·       A patient with a ruptured spleen.

·       Several others with relatively minor injuries such as broken bones and concussions.

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My new friend came in unconscious and on the brink of death. After draining over a liter of blood from his chest he turned around quite dramatically.

What impressed me most and gives me the most pride is the teamwork which Kudjip displayed on this day. This would be a difficult situation anywhere, but despite the limitations we face on a daily basis as doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff; despite the limitations of our medical equipment, supplies, and drugs; we worked together to provide some amazing medical care for these critically wounded patients.


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