KUDOS TO EMERGENCY CREWS
Every once in a while a tragedy occurs that tests our area's emergency response system. The Observer is pleased to report that when it comes to emergencies, we're in good hands.
One such tragedy happened April 2 when a van rolled on Interstate 84 just south of La Grande. Nine people were in the van. Two of the youngest passengers were killed on impact, but that left seven more who needed immediate attention.
Our area's emergency responders went to work the moment the 9-11 call came in and demonstrated that they were up to the challenge of a nine-victim accident.
Beginning with the people at the 9-11 dispatch center, it was clear the accident was being addressed by professionals. Coordinating police and ambulances for so large a number of accident victims isn't easy, but the folks at the dispatch center got the job done.
From there the word went out to the Oregon State Police, the sheriff's office, the
La Grande and La Grande rural fire and ambulances, and the Union Ambulance. La Grande's three ambulances and Union's were used to transport patients. Also responding were ODOT, two nurses from the Baker hospital who were passing by and stopped to assist, as well as other citizens.
The ambulances got the injured to Grande Ronde Hospital, which was on notice for what had to be at least in many years its biggest influx of patients arriving all at one time. The patients were triaged. Two were flown to Boise, thanks to the availability of Air Life, which has a base at the Union County Airport. The Red Cross and local church volunteers helped coordinate the reunification of the family in Boise, and the fire department provided transport.
All of the pieces came together for this terrible tragedy. Our emergency responders would say it's all in a day's work. But the fact is that what happened wasn't routine, not in our neck of the woods. Reacting to and responding quickly and appropriately to such a massive accident wouldn't have been nearly as seamless if our local folks weren't ready and able to do their jobs.
Their training and professionalism was evident that day. And for that we thank them.