November 2, 2007

Cornell EMS Deploys Mass Casualty Incident Unit

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Cornell’s Emergency Medical Service has recently announced the deployment of a new mass casualty incident, or “MCI,” unit. According to a University press release, this MCI unit is the largest collection of triage, medical supplies, command, logistical and long-term support of any emergency response agency in Tompkins County.
This new unit was purchased in conjunction with the Office of Risk Management and Insurance, which has been in close cooperation with CUEMS to better prepare campus for any potential emergencies.
According to CUEMS director Alec Johnson ’08, the administration responded “very quickly and favorably” to the idea. The unit, which began as a plan last year, is now up and running with the capacity to treat over 100 injured individuals in the event of a disaster on campus.
“The MCI unit is designed for any instance in which you have a number of people that are injured. This could be anything from a bus rollover to a fire on campus where people are going to need to be stabilized and treated prior to being transported to the hospital,” Johnson said.
“An MCI can be as little as or four injured individuals, but it is defined as any instance that overwhelms the current emergency system. In a scenario that involves a number of injured people it would be difficult to dispatch a large number of ambulances to the area at once,” he said. “This is where the MCI unit comes in. It is designed to guarantee an intern level of care before patients reach the hospital.”
According to the press release, last fall CUEMS updated their Campus Mass Casualty Incident Protocol designed to mobilize EMTs on campus in the event of an emergency. CUEMS will also be organizing joint training with Gannett Health Services, the Cornell Police and Environmental Health and Safety to further streamline the response to any large-scale medical disaster
“Although the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April occurred after planning for the unit had begun, the incident served as a reminder as to why such resources are vital to places like Cornell in the event of a disaster,” Johnson added.
Ryan O’Halloran ’09, director of operations for CUEMS, worked very closely with Johnson on this project.
“The fact that we now have the resources and the training to work together in the event of a large incident should allow everyone to sleep easier. Cornell is now even safer and more prepared,” O’Halloran said.
Contained inside the unit is a large supply of the equipment that would be necessary at the initial arrival at the scene as well as for the duration of treatment and transport of the victims. This includes command and support materials, trauma supplies, diagnostic equipment and much more.
“This new MCI unit is a great resource to the Cornell community and places Cornell University well ahead of peer institutions in preparing for potential large scale disasters,” Johnson added. “Cornell University and Cornell EMS are now poised with the manpower and resources to handle any disaster on campus.”
Cornell EMS is a student-run volunteer organization that consists of about 80 members trained in field emergency medicine. The organization works closely with local health and security services like Gannett Health Services, Cayuga Medical Center, Cornell Police and others on a regular basis. CUEMS responds to approximately 600 911 calls on campus each year.