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Hospital goes 'Code Gray' in Formosa emergency

By JR Ortega
May 2, 2013 at 12:02 a.m.
Updated May 3, 2013 at 12:03 a.m.

Chris Doehrman is airlifted from Citizens Medical Center in Victoria after sustaining injuries in a flash fire that occurred at the Formosa plant.

Code Gray - that is all Laurie Harvey needed to hear Thursday to know Memorial Medical Center in Port Lavaca was about to put its emergency plan to the test.

The spokeswoman for the hospital learned then that a flash fire at Formosa Plastics had injured an unknown number of workers and that she and the staff had to be able to go full force at the drop of a dime.

"It's a great method," Harvey said. "We all worked together."

All of the injured brought in were decontaminated, she said, for any harmful chemicals they might have been exposed to during the fire.

Under Code Gray, the hospital is put on lockdown to focus on the victims of the larger emergency, Harvey said.

Depending on the emergency, the hospital issues a code and goes into incident command, which means they are on high alert and extra staff and doctors are added.

Seven of the injured were taken to Memorial, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns and later released, Harvey said.

Another five were transported to Citizens Medical Center in Victoria, said Shannon Spree, hospital spokeswoman.

Of the five, four were transported from Formosa to the hospital by ambulance and one by private vehicle. Three of the five were in the intensive care unit in stable condition. One was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for treatment of burns.

A fifth was examined and released, Spree said.

Anne Johnson, emergency care coordinator with Citizens, said the hospital follows the incident command system.

The house supervisor acts as incident supervisor and manages all emergency care. This streamlines communication and allows all those working trauma to do their jobs efficiently.

"It's a very well-oiled machine," she said. "They know their jobs well, and they proved that today. I'm very proud of them."

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