Houston police chief Jim McNiell points toward the location of a helicopter landing zone Thursday afternoon at the scene of a fatal accident on Highway 63 about a mile north of Houston

Two fatal accidents about six hours apart last Thursday sent emergency workers into action –– many volunteering their time or working extra hours.

Texas County Memorial Hospital said it received the first call at 1:21 p.m. regarding a five-car pileup north of Houston on U.S. 63. The first TCMH ambulance left the hospital and was on the scene at 1:27 p.m. The back-up ambulance from the Houston arrived on the scene at 1:29, and the ambulance from the TCMH Licking base arrived on the scene at 1:37 p.m.

One victim was flown from the scene via air ambulance. Seven injured patients were brought into the hospital by ambulance, and one of those patients was flown from TCMH. Several other patients from the accident arrived via private vehicle.

Five TCMH physicians joined the emergency room physician that was working at the time of the accidents to care for all of the patients in the ER.

“Our hospital physicians rescheduled 35 appointments with patients in the clinics to be able to help out in the hospital’s emergency room,” said Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH.

Two members of the TCMH volunteer chaplain’s association came to the hospital to assist with the family members and friends of patients that arrived at the hospital.

“Over 20 employees from outside the emergency department — nurses from med surg, operating room staff, nurse managers and many others — assisted in various capacities in the emergency department,” Murray said. “We also had hospital employees that heard about the accident that called in and volunteered to help.”

“Words cannot express how proud I am of the job our hospital staff does in a highly critical situation like this,” Murray said.

Murray described the way all of the staff worked together to triage and to provide medical attention to all of the accident victims as well as the patients that were already in the ER seeking treatment prior to the accident and those that arrived during the afternoon to seek ER treatment.

TCMH received a second call at 7:38 p.m. to an accident near Emmett Kelly Park in Houston. The first TCMH ambulance left the hospital and was on the scene at 7:41 p.m. In addition to the ambulance from Houston, ambulances from the Licking and Cabool bases also arrived at the scene of the accident to assist within minutes of the first call.

The Houston base also dispatched their second ambulance with a nurse from the emergency department to assist with the victim that required special assistance being extracted from the automobile.

Because the second accident happened at the emergency room shift change, staff that was scheduled to leave at 7 p.m. stayed in the department to assist with the victims being brought in as well as caring for the patients that were already in the ER seeking treatment.

“Like all medicine, ER medicine is a practice that is not perfect, but it takes highly qualified people with critical thinking minds to assess and prioritize patients in situations like the ones on Thursday,” Murray said. “The TCMH staff did an outstanding job taking care of everyone.”

Murray described the work of the emergency department and other healthcare providers as “often overlooked.”

“Saving lives and providing care in times of need is what our staff does every day, but it’s highly visible situations like the accidents on Thursday that bring our staff’s skill and service to light,” Murray said.

Murray complimented the volunteer chaplains that responded at TCMH during the accident on Thursday afternoon and the one on Thursday evening.

“They arrived at the hospital and immediately assumed responsibilities providing counseling and direction to patients and the family members of the victims,” Murray said.

More 30 people associated with the afternoon accident that came to the hospital seeking information or to assist their friend or family member. Murray noted that everything ran smoothly during the several hours that patients were being treated.

“This is the type of accident that happens too often in our community,” Murray said. “It makes all of us realize how beneficial and important our expansion with the larger emergency department and additional trauma rooms is to our community.”

“Accidents like these would be even more critical if there wasn’t a local hospital to respond immediately to these serious situations,” Murray said.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply Cancel reply