Area trauma centers ready for Boston-like event

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Level 1 Trauma Center at IU Health has been put to life-saving use, both during the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 and the multi-car pileup this past winter along Interstate 70.

The goal is always the same: make the most of what is called a patient’s “golden hour”–the window of time the staff has to make a difference and save a life.

After the chaos in Boston, many Hoosiers wonder if area medical responders are ready for such a catastrophic event.

Their answer?

“Absolutely,” said trauma surgeon Jamie Coleman, who gave Fox 59 an inside look at IU Health’s Level I Trauma Center.

“Pretty much every day of my life is somebody else’s worst day of their lives,” said Coleman.

When the worst happens, Coleman said it all starts in one of two acute beds. Patients in the worst shape are brought here first.

“So, if a patient has a traumatic amputation, or they are bleeding and they need open cardiac massage, we can do that here in this room,” said Coleman.

From there, some patients are wheeled right into intensive care. Others go in for surgery.

“If they need to go into the operating room, this is where they go,” said Coleman. “It is literally that quick and that close.”

An ambulance with one patient at a time is one thing, but what about a disaster in which every second counts? As part of their training, Coleman said trauma center personnel try to beat the clock.

“We, a lot of times, time ourselves in the emergency department,” said Coleman. “Even if it is not an ‘emergency,’ even if I do not have six or seven patients back-to-back, we definitely go back and say, ‘We spent 20 minutes in our trauma bay, how can we improve that?'”

No one wants what happened on the streets of Boston to play out in Indianapolis. But if it does, Coleman said the trauma center is ready.

“If we can get them through the worst part of their lives, with our knowledge, with our medical care, if we can get them through that, I feel like we can get our patients through anything,” said Coleman.