How EMS workers, hospitals made arrangements to handle ice storm

By Stacy

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- When the rare winter blast hit, Lowcountry drivers couldn't cross the bridges. In some cases, that meant EMS workers couldn't get to the largest trauma center in the state - MUSC.

"When those bridges are cut off, we have to make arrangements to get them to other facilities," said Charleston County EMS Director Don Lundy.

East Cooper Medical Center is one of the hospitals that adjusted to meet the needs of Lowcountry emergency personnel.

"It definitely presents a staffing challenge because we have employees that work, that live outside of our work area," said Theresa Lynn said, who runs the emergency department at East Cooper.

Lynn said they had extra staff on call in Mount Pleasant and offered hospital rooms to employees if they wanted to stay the night.

They also contacted doctors living in Mount Pleasant who may have worked at other hospitals.

"It just required us to be prepared, to prepare the nursing staff, to make sure we have the supplies and equipment we'd need in case we got a severe patient," said Lynn.

"That kind of staffing and that kind of working with the hospitals ensured patients got the top care and that nobody was stuck in an area," said Lundy.

To prepare for more patients than usual with injury-related emergencies, the hospital brought in extra supplies, including fluid warmers, orthopedic devices and crutches, said Lynn .

"They stepped up and had everything available," said Lundy.

Lundy said all of the hospitals stepped forward to work with him and each other.

He said that action kept people safe in every part of the Lowcountry, no matter where they needed help.

Lundy also said EMS rearranged its ambulance stations so that the islands would be protected if bridges shut down.

Additional ambulances were also stationed in Mount Pleasant.