WARMC gears up for Regatta this weekend

August 9, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Western Arizona Regional Medical Center won’t have a MASH care area at Rotary Park during Saturday’s Laughlin River Regatta but staff are prepared for a sharp increase in the number of people taken to the hospital for care.

WARMC will focus on an in-house response method to care for regatta participants who require medical treatment, which will include bringing in more staff and temporarily adding emergency room space by devoting the ambulatory surgery unit to treating ER patients, said Mandy Doumit, director of WARMC’s Emergency Department.

Not only are water-related accidents more likely to occur in a busy river but conditions are likely to cause other injuries and illnesses, hospital staff said.

“It’s going to be very hot out there,” Doumit pointed out.

The high is forecast to be somewhere around 110 degrees, which is a normal temperature for this time of year, but many participants are from out of the area.

Situations involving heat exhaustion or heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn and extreme intoxication are expected to be numerous and more intense because of the heat, increasing the likelihood of other serious health problems, such as asthma.

More physicians, nurses, radiologists and lab personnel will be on duty at WARMC from Friday evening through Sunday. The addition of the ambulatory surgery unit will increase ER treatment and triage space by 50 percent, staff said.

During past regattas, WARMC’s MASH site was able to provide only a limited amount of care, in an uncontrolled environment, Doumit said.

WARMC treated more than 80 patients in its regatta day first aid station in past years. That number excludes those floaters who ended up at the hospital.

There will be a first aid station provided by American Medical Response and emergency responders will be patrolling the river to assist participants who run into medical trouble during the regatta. Floaters needing further treatment will be taken to WARMC.

“EMS is trained to take care of patients outside of a hospital,” said Emily Stevens, WARMC’s chief nursing officer. “At the hospital, we’re trained to take care of them here.”

Hospital personnel also will take advantage of the regatta and the anticipated increase in patients by practicing disaster response procedures, Stevens said.

The city will have a command center set up during the regatta, as will WARMC.

People without a way to get back to Laughlin after an ER visit will be able to board a shuttle from the hospital back to Laughlin that’s scheduled to run hourly from 1 p.m.-8 p.m.

River accidents, other health crises and even heavy intoxication can result in the loss of footwear, clothing and other personal items. Donations of socks, articles of clothing and other items people might need in order to leave the hospital are being set up, staff said.

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