There is no hospital in Bryan County – and that could mean life or death for someone who sustains serious injuries in a major accident – but emergency service officials will soon be able to supplement care in the event of such an emergency with a mobile trailer full of medical supplies.
Jim Anderson, Bryan County Emergency Services director, told county commissioners last month the county has received a $62,500 grant to purchase a mass casualty trailer. It will be housed at the emergency services headquarters in Pembroke and can be moved to the scene of an accident.
The trailer will house the equipment and supplies needed to treat up to 100 victims during a mass casualty event, such as a wreck involving a passenger bus on I-95, a plane crash or hurricane.
The trailer will have the same medical equipment found in an ambulance, like oxygen, backboards, bandages and gauze, Anderson said.
“It’s kind of the like insurance,” he said. “You hope you never have to use it, but you have access to it.”
For example, Anderson said the mass causality trailer could have been used when there was an explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Port Wentworth nearly three years ago. The Feb. 7, 2008, fire at the refinery killed 14 workers and injured dozens more.
Bryan County officials applied for the grant about a year ago, Anderson said. The trailer and emergency equipment will be paid for by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through a federal grant that is distributed by the state.
The trailer should be delivered by the spring but that is not a guarantee, Anderson added.
He said the mobile unit is needed so emergency medical responders can treat victims of a major disaster more efficiently with the necessary equipment. The closest hospital is in Chatham County, and there is a Level 1 trauma center at the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. There is also a Level 1 trauma center at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, Anderson said.
But the trailer can also be on site during large-scale events, like the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival in Richmond Hill or the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Savannah, he said.
County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said the trailer will allow EMS personnel to give victims the kind of immediate care needed in the midst of a disastrous accident or event.
He said he believed Bryan County received the grant due to the lack of a hospital and also because the county is located on the fringe of other counties also without a hospital.
“We’re sort of strategically located in Coastal Georgia,” he said.
There is also a mass casualty trailer in McIntosh County. That county received its 24-foot trailer and medical supplies from the same Homeland Security grant two years ago, according to Ray Parker, the emergency management director there.
“We saw the need in the area,” he said.
The closest hospital for residents in McIntosh is in Brunswick. But for some living in the northern part of the county, Savannah hospitals are actually closer, he said, adding that the closest Level 1 trauma center for McIntosh residents is in Savannah.
The trailer allows emergency medical workers set up a triage center at the scene of an accident, Parker said.
“It’s one of those things you don’t need all the time, but when you need it, you need it now,” he said.
Parker said McIntosh County has not had to use its mass causality trailer yet.
“Thank goodness,” he added.