New emergency team recruiting members

February 9, 2009 3:15:25 PM PST
A new emergency response team was in action in King of Prussia today.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Specialized Medical Response Team showed off the equipment it would use to handle a major emergency.... such as a devastating storm or a terrorist attack.

The gear includes portable hospitals that can amazingly inflate in just 14 minutes.

Mark Ross, a volunteer firefighter in King of Prussia, and director of security services and emergency preparedness for Mercy Suburban Hospital, describes the tents. " We can go anywhere from a holding area for a lot of patients who don't need a lot of care, all the way up to critical care beds with monitors, ventilators, cardiac care. It's pretty impressive."

The team also uses portable cardic monitors smaller than a library book, and ventilators not much bigger than a shoe box. The equipment and training was funded through $1 million in preparedness grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force.

The team includes volunteer doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, as well as people without medical training.

SMRT is designed to augment existing healthcare in a crisis, by enabling a hospital to expand its "surge capacity," the number of patients it can handle. As hospitals reduce the number of beds, that becomes a bigger & bigger factor in emergency preparedness.

Locally, the team would be activated at the request of a county office of emergency management. Outside the area, it would respond to calls from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, or the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Organizers say they're looking for more people to join the team. Anyone interested can call Monica Veneziano at 215-575-3746, or Thomas Grace at 215-575-3747.

You can also register through a state emergency volunteers website, by clicking here.

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