Friday August 24, 2007
Louisville will unveil its newest tool for improved emergency medical response at the Ironman competition this weekend. RESCU (Regional Emergency Services Care Unit) is a mobile emergency room that can be deployed at disaster scenes or major public events to begin treatment of patients on site and reduce the number of patients sent to hospital emergency rooms.
RESCU (pronounced rescue) is a portable tent, inflatable in less than seven minutes, and can accommodate 20 patients at a time. Inside, the tent stores emergency medical supplies and equipment such as cardiac monitors, medications and intravenous fluid set-ups, heating and air conditioning units and privacy curtains. RESCU can be stored and transported in a single ambulance.
“In medical emergencies, time is critical,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. “The RESCU allows our EMS workers to get right into the heart of big crowds and quickly stabilize and treat patients before evacuating them to nearby hospitals.”
Recently, Louisville was named a national Model Community by the Centers for Disease Control for establishing strong cooperation between public health agencies and emergency care providers.
The purchase of RESCU expands the city’s medical coverage for major public events. During this summer’s Senior Games, EMS stationed multiple crews at competition sites, while maintaining a fully staffed service to cover the rest of the city. EMS crews delivered immediate care to two Senior Games athletes who suffered cardiac arrest during the competition – and both men survived.
“We realize that to provide the level of care that our citizens expect public and private agencies must work together,” said Abramson. “We’ve been fortunate to have great working relationships with our local hospitals, and we’re looking forward to expanding those relationships with our surrounding counties.”
The Kentucky Department for Public Health with the Kentucky Hospital Association used federal hospital preparedness funds to purchase the RESCU. The tent and accompanying equipment cost approximately $256,000. Louisville Metro EMS will manage and maintain the unit, and will deploy it to other parts of the state as needed.
“I applaud Louisville EMS for taking the initiative to guarantee that our families will have access to the best and quickest medical care when attending public events,” Congressman John Yarmuth said. “This is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when the federal, state, and city governments all work together.”
“The Kentucky Department for Public Health is pleased to provide Louisville with federal Department of Health and Human Services funding for the purchase of this mobile field treatment center,” said William D. Hacker, M.D., commissioner for public health and acting undersecretary for health at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “The mobile unit will have the capability of providing advanced life support services to effectively and efficiently respond to a public health emergency or disaster.”
RESCU adds to the city’s fleet of emergency equipment that can serve the region. In 2005, Louisville used federal grant money to purchase three emergency supply trailers that are stationed in Louisville, Shelby County and Oldham County. The mass casualty trailers carry a range of emergency supplies, such as stretchers, oxygen masks, bull horns and generators that can be quickly delivered to a disaster scene.
The city’s expanding emergency communications network, MetroSafe, is designed to help connect the region in times of emergency.
Metro EMS director Dr. Neal Richmond says RESCU will be used to absorb any initial “surge” of ill or injured people that might otherwise overwhelm hospital emergency rooms during large-scale public events or disasters.
“We’ve found in our coverage of mass-gathering events that we can get our people to those who are sick or injured very quickly,” said Richmond. “But now we will really be able to rapidly stabilize and initiate treatment of large numbers of patients on-site without unnecessarily flooding our 911 system or area hospitals.”
The city plans to make RESCU available for large public events like Thunder Over Louisville, the Kentucky Derby and the Ryder Cup. Regionally, it will likely be deployed for the upcoming Equestrian Games in Lexington. When RESCU is used outside of Louisville, the agency requesting the tent will be responsible for staffing it and reimbursing Louisville EMS for expenses.
The tent was purchased from Zumro, Inc., based in Hatboro, Pa. The company makes multiple models of portable shelters, but the model purchased for Louisville Metro EMS is the largest type currently produced.