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On December 18,, 2017, when an Amtrak train derailed near the border of Pierce and Thurston counties in Washington State, the Network led the critical role of coordinating the healthcare system’s community wide response.

Based on the possible consequences of a 12-car, two-locomotive train leaving the tracks and spilling onto busy Interstate 5 below, the Network activated its Healthcare Emergency Coordination Center within an hour of the incident to assist with the response.

The Network then activated the patient tracking system minutes later. Just as the Network had planned and exercised with regional partners, they saw that area hospitals had started to document the arrival of injured patients. The casualties and impact to the healthcare community were significant: three passengers were killed and 70 others had been transported to nine hospitals across three counties.

A Network representative deployed to the Amtrak Incident Command Post to support healthcare organizations in multiple regions, Amtrak family reunification and passenger manifest reconciliation. In addition, Network staff streamlined information sharing between healthcare and other critical stakeholders, including National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Amtrak, emergency management, public health, state government and other organizations.

Throughout the response, the Network kept the healthcare and response communities apprised of the situation. Staff frequently contacted receiving hospitals and other key healthcare organizations, coordinated resource needs and availability, and shared email updates with a broad network of partners.

“The Network’s response throughout the train derailment incident was impressive,” said Nigel Turner, Division Director, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “The staff demonstrated all the exceptional skills and capabilities of an expert healthcare coalition.”

The Network’s ability to quickly, efficiently and effectively coordinate the response of healthcare organizations across multiple counties during this tragic event is the result of many years of hard work, planning and ongoing engagement with our regional partners.

Photo credit: From the News Tribune, (c) (2017) McClatchy. All rights reserved. Used by permission and protected by the Copyright Laws of the United States. The printing, copying, redistribution, or retransmission of this Content without express written permission is prohibited.


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