Mass casualty procedures enacted at hospital where nurse called 911

Silverdale, Wash.-based St. Michael Medical Center — which has consistently made headlines since one of its nurses called 911 on the overcrowded emergency room — employed the help of fire crews again Nov. 11, the Kitsap Sun reported Nov. 12. 

The hospital, which faces staffing shortages and an accreditation delay, saw an influx of ambulances on the evening of Nov. 11. Four ambulances were waiting to drop off patients while five more were on the way with serious trauma patients, the newspaper reported. Fire chiefs activated mass casualty procedures, allowing two emergency medical services crews to monitor the nonemergent patients while the others returned to service. 

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue also stationed a duty chief at the hospital to aid in care coordination. The situation resolved within two hours as more nursing staff arrived, according to a joint news release from the hospital and Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association obtained by the newspaper. 

Kelsay Irby, RN, the St. Michael Medical Center nurse who first called 911, told the newspaper it was the "perfect storm": the previous night's shift was short-staffed and could not catch up on patients, which set Nov. 11's day shift behind. The ambulance phone rang for 35 minutes straight, according to Ms. Irby. 

"It's been our experience that even when the St. Michael ED is busy, the most critically-ill or injured patients are getting the care they need quickly. Still, we want to do what we can to make sure that all our emergency medical patients — critical or not — can get the treatment they're seeking in a timely manner and our units can get back to their districts, ready to respond to the next emergency," Jim Gillard, president of Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association and chief of Poulsbo Fire Department, said in the release.

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