Chief Jim Wamsley

Chief Jim Wamsley

Historically the cavalry was the most mobile element of the battlefield. They fought from horseback and were possessed of the best armor and weaponry. Many is the reference to cavalry arriving to save the day; even the inference the “cavalry is coming” heartens those who are facing terrible odds of survival during hard times.

In the field of EMS and medical practice in general, our cavalry has become the air support provided by helicopters and planes who allow physicians and medics to span space and time by flying directly to the scene of an incident, or flight from one hospital to another with a higher level of care. We rely on this air-cavalry to relieve the load on our local hospitals and quickly save the day, transporting our sick and wounded to higher care and larger facilities with more staff – both nurses and doctors.

Except our cavalry has been hamstrung by current events. University of Utah (the U) – the receiving facility for our cavalry – has forecasted that if physical distancing isn’t followed in the Salt Lake City area, within 24 days their ability to care for those affected by COVID-19 will be severely impacted. The U has forecasted the need for over 600 ICU beds for COVID-19 patient care ... they have 600 total and will need 1,200 total. They will be 400 ventilators short of what they will need.

The staff at the U expects the curve of COVID-19 patients to peak at Day 70 (Day 1 was when the first patient test came back positive). If physical distancing is not observed brilliantly, by Day 40 of the Salt Lake curve, resources will be overwhelmed and a triage system will be instituted to direct the least serious patients to stay home and receive minimal support from physicians, the middle category who are more sick will be admitted to the hospital, and the most severely affected will be sent home to receive instructions via telemedicine for palliative care so that their last days can be as comfortable as possible.

And the cavalry has been largely grounded. The fast track to a higher level of care is limited to only the most life/limb-threatening conditions on that day. No COVID-19 patients will be flown or transported to the U; serious conditions and illnesses that we have depended on the U to solve will be solved here in our local community at our local hospital. Who will also have their own ever-increasing COVID-19 curve and regular patient load.

At this junction of our nation’s history – our world’s history – we are faced with a foe we can’t see who insidiously sneaks into our homes, co-opts our friends and family, and silently spreads its damage among us. Our only weapon against it is U.S. and our willingness to bring the sword of social (physical) distancing and the armor of hygiene into play. Folks, WE are the Cavalry and our greatest weapon against this foe is to do social distancing brilliantly. Take care each other. Reach out to a friend or acquaintance each day by phone, email or social media of choice and have a conversation.

We can flatten the curve together to give our Hospital a fighting chance to treat ALL of those affected by our common enemy.

We can pull this off.

We are the cavalry.

Do social distancing brilliantly

Information courtesy of Dr. Jean Stachon and Dr. Christian Theodosis

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