© 2021 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Trauma Event Covers Joplin, Tucson Tragedies

Dr. Peter Rhee spoke at the 23rd annual Trauma Symposium in downtown Wilmington. Rhee was the surgeon for former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords after the mass shootings in Tuscon last year.

The Trauma and Emergency Symposium brought together hundreds of emergency responders and other health care providers on Friday and will continue through Saturday.

WHQR’s Jessica Ferrer reports that the event was held in downtown Wilmington and included keynote presentations by  medical professionals who dealt with two of the nation’s most high profile tragedies last year.

In the trauma field, expecting the unexpected is a daily part of the job. For Jeff Hamilton, the unexpected included the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri last year and claimed a local hospital as one of its victims.

As the emergency management coordinator for that tragedy, Hamilton discussed the possibility of actually losing a hospital and the recovery process. In the storm’s aftermath, Hamilton says the first step was to provide immediate care with the help of the National Guard.

“The second step was to put in a kind of intermediate care area which is a component, modular-built hospital system that’s there now. And then the third component is the new hospital as it’s being built and will be available to us in 2015.”

An unforeseen problem has been caring for employees while the new hospital is being built. Right now, nurses and doctors are being “leased” to work at nearby facilities in what Hamilton calls their “Talent Sharing Program.” The program ensures that hospital employees still have jobs and that there will be experienced workers for the new facility.

Hamilton also discussed tips specifically for southeastern North Carolina when it comes to dealing with a tornado. Last year in North Carolina, dozens of tornados killed 24 people.

The problem that you have in this immediate area is that you don’t have basements. And in Joplin, the majority of our fatalities occurred in homes that did not have basements.”

The event also included presentations from Dr Peter Rhee, who was the surgeon for former U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He described the challenges of dealing with the media, while keeping the public informed.

Rhee also spoke about new methods in the care of trauma patients that are much more effective than the old techniques. He said that doctors used to think that giving patients crystalloid solutions, or bags of fluid, was life-saving, when in fact, that’s not the case.

Although those fluids help in certain situations in trauma when you give a lot of it, it actually was the main culprit as to why people were dying later. So we have now found a way to avoid that. And when we have developed a technique so we can minimize or try to use those types of fluids as little as we can, we found that our results are tremendously better.”

Rhee said that getting hospitals and trauma centers to change the way they resuscitate patients who are bleeding to death could save more lives.

About 400 hundred people registered for the trauma symposium which was hosted by New Hanover Regional Medical Center and the South East Health Education Center.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? If so, we'd like to hear from you. Please email the WHQR News Team.