Communications, Interoperability Are Key in D.C. Metro Response

DCFEMS medical director discusses successful operations during rush-hour MCI

 

 
 
 

Jennifer Berry | | Tuesday, June 23, 2009


On Monday, June 22, at about 5 p.m. EDT, a stalled rush-hour subway train was rear-ended by another rush-hour train, killing seven people and injuring 76 people, six of whom had critical injuries.

When we talked with D.C. Fire & EMS (DCFEMS) Medical Director and JEMS editorial board member Dr. James J. Augustine shortly after the incident, he said it was a three-alarm assignment that brought more than 200 responders to the scene.

He said manpower needs were high because of warm temperatures and complicated extrications from the mangled cars. The victim profile was similar to other high-speed crashes, with victims crushed and in close proximity to each other. "Essentially everyone will be needing to be boarded to be moved."

"It was handled incredibly well," Augustine said. "As with many of these metro accidents, there was difficult access to the train tracks where the incident occurred."

He highlighted three key areas of response that made for successful management of this incident Ï called by many to be the worst train crash in D.C. history:

  1. Plenty of manpower from DCFEMS and mutual-aid jurisdictions, including responses from Fairfax, Arlington, Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue;
  2. Cooperation from area hospitals, and
  3. Great use of radio and phone communications systems and the hospital alerting network.

In addition to helping at the scene, responders from mutual-aid jurisdictions assisted by filling stations while DCFEMS providers were on scene. Also, hospitals cleared adequate space for victim care, and the hospital communication system kept each facility informed.

Finally, Augustine said the way DCFEMS manages day-to-day and routine MCIs ensured effective scene management. "The everyday management of small incidents, and of accidents with multiple casualties but relatively minor injuries, builds the blocks for great EMS management of terrible incidents like this one," he said.

JEMS Resources

"The train compacted accordion-style:" Comments from on-scene chiefs at the D.C. Metro crash

JEMS Connect discussion thread on this incident

JEMS.com MCI page

May 2009 JEMS "Trauma at the Tunnel" article

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Related Topics: Extrication and Rescue, Head and Spinal Injuries, Medical Emergencies

 
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