Arlington plan for managing mass casualties is first in nation

A new response plan at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington will be the nation’s first of its kind in dealing with mass casualty incidents and protecting the hospital from threats.

The Hospital Response Task Force is a new partnership between Arlington County’s fire and police departments and the Virginia Hospital Center. It is designed to save more lives during mass casualty incidents, such as terrorist attacks and mass shootings, by providing medical personnel with enough resources to manage a sudden surge in patients.

The task force was created in 2018 following national and global research that revealed how disasters can limit the capabilities of medical professionals.

“In nearly all cases where events included a large number of victims, significant issues were documented at hospitals nearby the incident,” the hospital said in a news release Monday.

“Hospitals were overrun with victims who self-transported to the hospital, oftentimes with friends or ride-sharing services.”

The new plan aims to provide facilities with immediate assistance to keep large numbers of incoming patients from overwhelming resources during a major incident.

It also aims to stop secondary threats to the hospital that could arise during such emergencies.

“While specifics of the plan will not be disseminated to the public for security reasons, paramedics, law enforcement officers and hospital staff will work hand-in-hand to provide rapid treatment and protection for incoming victims,” the hospital said.

The plan, which will become a part of Arlington County’s emergency response operations, is expected to be fully implemented by May 2019.

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