St. Louis Hospitals Prepared For Disasters, Chemical Bio Contaminations

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- St. Louis hospitals are prepared for a mass casualty event like in Boston. Barnes Jewish is one of three level one trauma centers in the area.  SLU and Mercy hospitals are the others.

Dr. Douglas Schuerer is a Barnes Jewish surgeon and trauma expert. "This kind of disaster unfortunately brings up how much trauma centers are needed," he said.

He commends the hospitals in Boston.  He said they did a good job handling scores of patients all at one time.  Dr. Douglas Schuerer said, "There`s 3 dead out of 188 wounded. That`s one of the best survivor ratios ever recorded in mass casualties. That just shows you we`re learning how to take care of these patients, we're learning how to use the trauma system to take care of everyone."

He believes the St. Louis medical community needs to do an even better job of getting seriously injured patients to the right hospitals quickly.

Nurse Keith Outlaw is the disaster preparedness coordinator at Barnes Jewish.  He said they are ready to deal with incidents like the ricin scare in Washington, D.C.  The hospital staff is always preparing for disasters.  Nurse Outlaw said, "We participate in the city wide drill, the statewide drill and also we drill within our system our BJC system."

Although they have antidotes for chemical and biological contamination, under lock and key he said when it comes to ricin, doctors can only treat the symptoms.

Outlaw said, "There`s not really a big antidote for it that you can`t give this shot and you`re cured."

The next drill at Barnes Jewish is early next month.