Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is a busy place, and this year is particularly busy in the facility’s level II trauma center. In a press release, the hospital said they’ve treated 1,010 trauma patients this year through September. That’s compared to 813 patients for the same time period last year for a considerable 24% increase.
EIRMC officials believe it’s mostly caused by an increase in the number of travelers coming to the region. “As we’ve seen the economy spurn back, we’ve seen more people on vacation,” said Barry Hawthorne, a registered nurse and director for emergency and trauma services. “We get most everything that comes out of the national parks.”
EIRMC’s trauma center has served the eastern Idaho and western Wyoming region for over eight years. In order to maintain it’s level II trauma center status, EIRMC must be ready at all times. “It means that at any minute, we have to have teams that are ready to take care of patients that come through the door,” said Melonie Frasure, a trauma center coordinator. “Those teams are here 24/7 ready to care for people. It includes having all of our physicians ready and the resources available.”
When an emergency is called in, time is everything. The hospital first determines if an ambulance or helicopter is needed. If a helicopter is required, crews immediately look to see if conditions are acceptable for flying.”If we accept a flight, we try to be in the air within five minutes,” said Matt Palazzolo, a pilot for Air Idaho. EIRMC has two helipads as they often get air traffic flying in from Driggs and West Yellowstone, MT.
Once a helicopter lands or an ambulance arrives, teams stationed at the trauma center move as quickly and efficiently as possible. “It’s life or death most of the time with our patients,” said Frasure. “To be able to take that golden hour and make a difference, we turn something that’s a tragedy in someone else’s life into something that’s survivable and hope to have the best outcome possible.”