Monday, July 8, 2013
Learning about the crash at SFO, and that dozens of victims were brought to SF General Hospital, I was, of course, thinking about my time there, on the trauma service. Particularly as chief resident, when I lived in the hospital, in charge of daily alternating teams, never leaving for two months. We took care of all the trauma, and most of the major surgical emergencies in the city; and we believed -- not without reason -- that if a patient made it there alive, he'd leave that way, too. SFGH is also the burn center for the Bay Area. I spent plenty of time in that unit, too. There's no more hellish place on earth that's not a prison or illegal. Getting out of there alive was a more iffy thing.
In my time I never was confronted with an event of that magnitude. That they set up tents for triage and treatment says they were well-drilled for such a thing. Based on what I know, going there, in no matter how many numbers at once, gave them the best chance of survival they could have had.
Trauma, for a surgeon in training, is the center of it all, the proving ground, the crucible, the teacher of all things you need to know. It was where we all wanted to be; and being chief resident was the ultimate test of whether we were truly ready to foist ourselves upon the world. What a place, Mission Emergency, the Mish, SFGH, the central character in that book I wrote. It's shinier now, no longer the classic brick county hospital with open wards and ancient operating rooms with amphitheater seating, as it was when I was there. But the bones of it are the same, and the mission (if not the Mission.)
I'm thinking of them all, the docs and nurses, the techs and personnel of all kinds. And the patients, in the best hands around. How awful it must have been, and still is.
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