101 Things the Fire Department wishes you knew



Saturday, November 29

...Alert for the Mass Casualty Incident...


Oooh, now this could be good. An MCI reported at a major department store could mean a lot of work...or not.

THE EMERGENCY
While men were working on the holiday window displays, an employee passed by an open door and dust wafted out causing her to wave her hands infront of her face. Her supervisors want her evaluated since she is pregnant.

THE ACTION
You may be asking yourself, "I thought this was an MCI. Where are all the victims?" Oh just wait and see.
We assess the young lady who has nothing wrong and no complaints, she just wants to get back to work. She signs our refusal and we're clearing the scene when the MCI call comes in. Radio dispatches it as multiple persons exposed to an unknown dust, initial reports of dozens injured. We tell them to hold on the calvalry for now and let us go back and see what is happening now. We were just there where the open construction door was and no one came out asking for help.
As we pull back around the corner, there they are. About a dozen employees are on the sidewalk holding their mouths watching all the pre-holiday shoppers going by.
I look at my partner who sighs and asks, "Are we really going to do this?"
"Absolutely we are. Let's think of it as a drill." I say.
I order up a Hazmat repsonse and an alert for the local hospitals of a situation with multiple patients. We exit a half block away and use the PA to tell the employees to remain where they are. Another ambulance has approached from the other side of the street and they're blocking pedestrian traffic. We know the "dust" is just that but want to see if the plan from HQ can actually be deployed in a busy situation.
We don our flashy vests and grab the triage kit and away we go.
As the Hazmat and Chiefs arrive they quickly learn that none of the construction workers are involved, it appears to only be employees. As we question them as to their symptoms, they never got their stories straight while waiting for us. Some have abdominal pain, others a soar throat, I remember one being faint, but all say they were exposed to the dust and want to goto the hospital.
Corporate folks are now appearing on the sidewalk demanding to know why people who work on the other side of the store are here saying they're injured.
Turns out the rumor spread that the first girl got to go home because of the dust (not true) and they all wanted to go home.
We cut 35 charts that morning and learned that the plan really does work if you start from the very beginning. It is true what they say that the first 5 minutes of an MCI will dictate how the next 5 hours go. My last 4 hours was writing charts.

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