Injured passengers were taken to hospitals all over the city after Sunday's Metro-North derailment, and a detailed procedure allowed responders to treat large a number of people at one time. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
Following Sunday's Metro-North derailment, immediate coordinated action between first responders, law enforcement and area hospitals was paramount in saving lives.
"Unfortunately, four lives were lost, but there were some saved because of the response," said Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.
"We had about a dozen life-threatening emergencies," said EMS Chief Abdo Nahmod. "The people with head trauma, the people with loss of consciousness, concussions, central nervous system trauma."
Those injuries were considered the most serious and categorized as red.
"People who had extremity fractures but were stable were categorized as yellow, and the walking wounded are described as green," Nahmod said.
An incident command system was put into play, and calls were made to area hospitals.
"We have a network that tells us bed availability," Nahmod said.
"Some of the least injured people, we send to hospitals further away to make sure that they don't crowd up the emergency rooms for the more needier patients," Cassano said.
The injured are then taken to one of the many hospitals designated as trauma centers, like here at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, where teams are waiting 24/7 to address their needs.
"We have an emergency room, receiving area specifically for trauma, emergency physicians that are trained in trauma. In addition, we have a designated operating room that's dedicated just for trauma," said Dr. George Agriantonis, director of trauma surgery at Elmhurst Hospital. "Our blood bank is geared, not only being 24/7, but able to provide massive amounts of blood products."
There are about 16 hospitals with accredited trauma centers in the city, including St. Barnabas and Jacobi, which took in derailment victims. Some of those injured Sunday were sent to non-trauma center hospitals that also had teams on standby.
Fire, EMS and hospital officials all said that what it comes down to is constant preparation.
"At least twice a year, we drill on mass injury events," Agriantonis said. "We come up with a scenario, and we actually run through the drill physically. It gives us some comfort that the mechanisms we have in place do work."
Fire, police and EMS conduct similar mass incident drills throughout the year.