After the bombs went off in Boston, local emergency rooms were inundated with trauma patients. In addition, those patients arrived with complex wounds typical of war zones, like those caused by IED shrapnel.
In that moment, those doctors, normally equipped to handle almost any injury, had to adapt to the high volume of people needing immediate attention for severe injury.
So what happens when an ordinary ER becomes a military hospital? How does a hospital prepare for a mass casualty, and how does it adjust to these new circumstances, especially when it comes to making tough decisions like saving or amputating a limb?
Dr. Paul Huddleston has some insight into these questions. As Division Chair of Spine Surgery at the Mayo Clinic, he performs everyday orthopedic surgery. But as a colonel in the Army Reserve, he’s treated blast injuries in both Iraq and Afghanistan.