UCLA Responds to
Metrolink Train Accident

The Metrolink train accident on September 12 — the first multi-casualty incident physicians and staff have faced in our new hospital — provided a test of our trauma center and patient-care responses during a disaster.

"One of the purposes in building this new hospital was to continue to serve as a key part of the Los Angeles County trauma network. While we would have brought the same level of service and care to these patients in the old hospital, our new setting enhanced the demonstration of our capabilities and the value of our services," notes Dr. David Feinberg, CEO, UCLA Hospital System.

Shortly after the crash occurred, eight of the most seriously injured commuters were flown across town in helicopters to UCLA where surgeons, doctors and Emergency Department staff were waiting.

"The injuries involved broken bones and fractures of the ribs, pelvis and spine. Most serious were the internal injuries to organs such as the intestine, liver and pancreas," says Dr. Henry Gill Cryer, chief of trauma surgery. Three patients were taken to the operating rooms and treated for internal injuries and blood loss.

"Fortunately, the inventory in the blood bank was very good due to our daily efforts to maintain sufficient blood products for UCLA patients," notes Dr. Alyssa Ziman, director of transfusion medicine. "Elsa Tsukahara and Kenna Rodriquez, blood bank supervisors, mobilized all available staff, organized transport of all available group O red cell units and plasma, and managed trauma victims' blood needs to assure that the inventory was used most appropriately." The UCLA Blood and Platelet Center received 900 calls that night from people wanting to donate blood.

In addition to the medical team, social workers and patient-care specialists contributed to the overall smooth response to the emergency. Among them were social work supervisor Nancy Hayes and her team who provided emotional support to the families and helped ensure they received regular medical updates. Virgie Mosley, patient liaison supervisor, was one of several people who reported to the Emergency Department soon after finding out about the crash, and who, with others, fielded a huge volume of calls from people who were trying to locate their loved ones.

Dr. Mark Morocco, a UCLA Emergency Department physician, wrote an article that was published in the L.A. Times Health section about his experience that day. Read his compelling story about our UCLA heroes.