Illinois first responders looking to minimize transport times with closure of westbound span of JB Bridge

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COLUMBIA, IL - Some first responders on the Illinois side of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge are working to find ways around a shutdown that’s expected to delay some patient transport times.  The westbound span of the JB Bridge was shut down Sunday when inspectors found cracks in the steel.  The bridge is expected to remain closed for at least the rest of the week.

“It is a big impact for our residents and our community,” said Columbia EMS Chief Kim Lamprecht.  She’s been working on ways to determine the best way for paramedics to get patients the best possible care.

“Approximately 75% of our patients go to Mercy South which provides comprehensive stroke, trauma, and cardiac care,” said Lamprecht.   The westbound shutdown means patients in similar situations will likely be transported to SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital.  That could add 10 to 20 minutes to what transport times would be if the westbound span of the bridge was open.

“We are the closest hospital for a lot of those patients coming from Illinois,” said SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital Chief Nursing Officer Patti Kelley.

She said the hospital is a Level I Trauma Center and will be able to handle any increase in patients they might see because of the shutdown.

“We’re always prepared for the unexpected so we can take any volume that they send us,” said Kelley.

Lamprecht has been communicating with several hospitals to try and find the best possible ways to get patients to the care they need.  She is also working with the fire department to try and identify potential landing areas for medical helicopters to help minimize delay times.  She said, “We’re just being proactive and making sure they get the best possible care and get to the hospitals in a timely manner.”

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