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California Fire Chief Backs New Trauma Center

A Solano County trauma center would be a welcome help to Vallejo emergency personnel, the city's top fire official said.

"It would save lives," interim Vallejo Fire Chief Doug Robertson said.

NorthBay Healthcare officials revealed plans Thursday to establish the county's first Level 3 trauma center in Fairfield by 2012. Two years later, NorthBay would relocate the center to Vacaville.

But first, the plans must be approved by state and local agencies.

As it stands, the nearest trauma centers to Vallejo are John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek and the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento. Children are sent to Oakland Children's Hospital.

Generally, people injured severely enough to warrant a trip to a trauma center are sent to Walnut Creek, Robertson said. Such injury victims generally involve traffic collisions, but also include criminal activity such as stabbings or shootings.

"When they're booked up, we get victims to UC Davis," Robertson said.

With light traffic, it takes about 20 minutes for a trauma victim to be transported to Walnut Creek for treatment. It takes about 10 minutes to fly there, Robertson added.

If a trauma center opens in Fairfield, the fire department would then have a choice of hospitals for trauma victim, Robertson said. The fire chief estimates that the department sends about five people a week from Vallejo to John Muir.

Trauma centers are ranked by the American College of Surgeons, with a Level 1 trauma center like UC Davis being the most comprehensive. NorthBay's plans involve developing a Level III trauma center. John Muir is a Level II center.



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