NEW YORK—Two months after the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia sunk on January 13, the Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) hosted the “Maritime Disaster in NYC” trauma symposium. Attendees focused on learning techniques and how to coordinate in the event of a similar disaster in the future at the New York Harbor.
Hospital staff from the around the city gathered in the medical’s center’s Sipp Conference Center to attend the lectures intended to provide the audience with the most current data and techniques to identify, care for, and treat traumatically injured patients, with a focus on maritime accidents.
“Here in Staten Island … you have large vessels coming through our harbor on a daily basis and it’s significant for us to be prepared for any type of injury,” said William Amaniera, Administrative Director of Emergency Medical Service at RUMC.
“[In] confined spaces, in a container ship, where they are going to have to go down below and bring someone out, whether utilizing aviation, the harbor unit, and bring them back to the shoreline safely. From the actual scene to the hospital, all the different stages are covered,” Amaniera added.
Deputy Chief Charles Martinez of the New York Police Department’s medical unit gave the keynote lecture on maritime disaster management. Also present were members from the NYPD Emergency Service Unit Tactical Response Team and directors from various departments in RUMC.
Martinez spoke about patient stabilization in conditions that involve waterlogged areas outdoors, possibly at night time with limited visibility.
The lecture was particularly useful for the medical center staff because the RUMC is the closest medical facility located in Staten Island next to the Kan Van Kull.
Christopher Sorrentino, Registered Nurse and Trauma Coordinator of RUMC who hosted the conference said that that he had planned to organize such an event before the cruise ship incident and it was a coincidence that demonstrated the importance of being prepared in case of a maritime accident.
“I think the maritime aspect is completely different from what we have been currently bringing in,” he said. “This is something that is very new to me and very new to the residents rotating through here … they may not understand the impact of being so close to New York harbor as this hospital is.”
Other speakers addressed aspects such as management of head and neck trauma, penetrating abdominal trauma, and penetrating head injuries.
“Part of being a trauma center is to have on-going education so we are all staying up to date to what we are doing. You take a license exam, you renew it, but how often do you sync up your boards again?” said Sorrentino. “Health care is not only changing as an industry but practices change. It’s important to make sure that we’re all on the same page. It really should be a refresher for the majority of us.”
Members of the audience included attending surgeons, emergency department attending physicians, surgical EM residents/students, physician assistants, and EMS-provider registered nurses.
“The significance of this symposium today is … to bring all the key players together, from the pre-hospital folks: the EMS staff, the fire department and police, working in conjunction with the hospital staff, the ER staff,” said Amaniera.
“Putting everyone together in the same playing field gives them a good sense of respect for each other. Getting the understanding from the pre-hospital and having the communication with the hospital staff, to me is a win-win. It’s going to benefit everyone.”
The conference was well received by attendees.
“I thought it was great. It was very interesting getting different perspectives from the different doctors from different departments. Working in the ambulance we have one perspective and it’s nice to see the other side of it,” said Rosemary Lopez, a paramedic at RUMC who participated in the event.