It's only Wednesday, but St. Patrick's patrons are already filing onto River Street. "I'll be down here for the parade and events on River Street," said Mike Santore, a visitor from Damascus, Maryland. His buddy, Paul Jacobs, already knows what he'll be doing." Drinking, that's about it."
Mike and Paul will joins thousands of their closest friends for one of the biggest St. Patrick's day in years. And with the partying and festivities may come chaotic scenes like the random accident in 2004, when a car plowed into a crowd of people along the parade route. ER doctors say most accidents though, will be minor." We will see a lot of altercations, cuts and bruises, minor fractures, things like that, usually alcohol related," said Dr. Gage Ochsner.
Dr. Ochsner is head of the trauma center at Memorial Health. They usually see between 200 and 300 people seeking medical attention in the field. About five percent of them will need more serious care in the E.R. But even with the increased numbers, there's always staff to handle it. " If I'm the trauma surgeon on and I get inundated, I have a back up who comes in. And he also has a backup. So between the E.R. and the trauma surgical staff, we already have a lot of people built in to handle the large number of patients," explained Dr. Ochsner.
Also on stand by is MedStar. They'll have up to 6 more ambulances on staff that day, plus extra paramedics at different staging areas in and around downtown. MedStar has also called in extra resources from other counties. "We're asking them to help us out, so you may actually see ambulances from different counties responding to some of the calls. We just want to make sure we get everybody covered. We don't want to have anybody waiting for an ambulance," said MedStar Director, Rick Shores.
Something different you'll see are the bike teams, which will be outfitted with first aid kits and defibrillators. They'll be riding throughout the downtown area and will have quicker and easier access through the crowds to anybody who may need medical attention.
Something else you'll see on St. Patrick's Day is the MedStar Communications and Tactical Unit. It will be parked along the parade route, taking any influx on 911 calls from the field." There's just so many EMS calls that happen during this day that the 911 system would just be overloaded." said Shores.
This way, dispatchers can send ambulances quicker to the scene and back to the hospital if needed. Where doctors and nurses in the E.R. will be ready to jump into action.
Over at St. Joseph's Candler, their emergency room will be providing extra staff and supplies as well. They'll start their preparations Thursday and keep them up until Sunday.