Oregon hospitals, emergency responders gearing up for solar ecli - KPTV - FOX 12

Total Solar Eclipse

Oregon hospitals, emergency responders gearing up for solar eclipse

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Emergency responders are gearing up to treat what’s expected to be a major surge in sick and injured during the solar eclipse in Oregon.

Legacy Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lewis Low told FOX 12 the hospital group is planning for a million more people in the state and a proportional influx of those needing medical care, although he said what those numbers will actually look like is anyone’s guess.

Keeping trauma centers and burn units well-staffed during the weekend and next week will be critical, according to hospital authorities.

“We’re making sure we have an adequate number of supplies,” Low said. “Whether it be as simple as IV Fluid, bandages and things like that, so we’ve actually increased the amount in our stockpile.”

One of the greater challenges will be shifting patients between different hospitals if one or more fill up. In anticipation of the solar eclipse, Low said Legacy’s Silverton location could become a key location, and the medical group has already planned to add more emergency department staff for the event.

Legacy Health is also considering adding extended clinic hours at some locations, Low added, noting the trauma centers are expecting to deal with more minor injuries that they wouldn’t typical handle, such as sprained ankles.

Officials at Oregon Health and Science University told FOX 12 they have similar plans in place and will have a “trauma-surge action plan” ready in case more doctors, supplies and even patient space is needed.

There’s one area of emergency response that’s a bit trickier, though. There are only so many life-flight helicopters to go around, and experts believe they’ll be in high demand during the solar eclipse.

Officials are concerned the helicopters will be needed not just for the usual critical care load but also likely for lesser injuries if ambulances are not able to respond on gridlocked roads.

Life Flight Network spokeswoman Felicia Heaton said more helicopters will be shifted from other regions toward the path of totality, with standby locations in central and eastern Oregon.

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