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Hospitals prepare for tragedies similar to Boston Marathon bombings

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TWC News: Hospitals prepare for tragedies similar to Boston Marathon bombings
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RALEIGH — As families continue to grieve those lost and victims recuperate from Mondays Boston Marathon bombings, first responders across the country are looking at how they would handle a similar event.

Emergency rooms are faced with life and death situations everyday but those that work there were still shocked when they witness the Boston Marathon bombings.

"There's story after story coming out about this person jumped in to help, this person jumped in to help and their training just kicked in. And they worked sort of like a fine oiled machine as soon as they got that established,” said Rex Healthcare Emergency Room Clinical Manager Elaine Marshall.

Throughout the year hospitals and emergency rooms plan mass casualty drills, scenario-based practices experts say are vital in today's world.

"We work through the scenarios and try to throw a few what ifs or curve balls in and we do it twice a year just to make sure we're sharp on it,” said Rex Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Manager Alan Foster.

Even before the Boston bombings, Rex Healthcare was preparing for a mass casualty event next week involving a bomb. The scenario was an international food festival with the injured speaking a number of languages.

"[We were] really trying to push the outer limits, how would you communicate with those patients, where would our resources be to communicate that, and these are all things if you think about the area of Raleigh, we have these. We have these on weekends and things like that, so we need to prepare for it,” Marshall said.

Just like in a real mass emergency, resources will be launched in and outside the hospital. Most hospitals are required to perform mass casualty drills every year to be in compliance.

"Some of the emergency department staff would come out here and triage the patients, and organize them sending the most critically injured or critically sick in first," said Foster.

Experts say working closely with EMS and other hospitals is vital to helping patients and saving lives.

"Nothing really is sacred anymore, and the only way we really are prepared to deal with these types of situations is to drill for them,” Marshall said.

Dozens of medical professionals and hospital personnel at Rex Hospital are set to take part in next Friday's drill.

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