Passengers dozed as Wednesday night turned into Thursday on their trip from Toronto to New York City. The Trailways bus moved south through Syracuse on Interstate 81, lit by a full moon. It made it almost to Nedrow.
That’s where a car was left unattended in the middle of the highway. The driver of a tractor-trailer had stopped to help. The bus slammed into both about 2:30 a.m.
Operators from the Onondaga County 911 Center dispatched crews from 10 ambulances, plus rescuers from eight fire and three police departments. They also activated Upstate’s Physician Response Team to help care for the victims of the crash.
Members of the special team carry pagers 24 hours a day like volunteer firefighters. They take turns being on call, responding whenever summoned by the Onondaga County 911 Center. It’s a community service that Upstate provides without charge to individual patients.
While overseeing patient care, the physicians – all of whom are professors at Upstate – provide real-time feedback to paramedics and emergency responders, explains Derek Cooney, MD, the team’s medical director. He says the team responds to crises both large and small.
Erin Wirths, MD, was on call on the November night of the bus crash. She rushed to the scene in a Ford Expedition equipped with medical gear and medications. Christopher Tanski, MD, and David Landsberg, MD, who specializes in patients requiring intensive care, met her at the scene. Jeremy Joslin, MD, headed to Upstate University Hospital’s emergency department to coordinate the mass casualty accident. He is the director of the adult emergency department.
Tanski said many of the 52 passengers from the bus were not seriously injured. So when he arrived at the crash site, “the focus turned toward the driver who was pinned in the wreckage and was critically injured.”
Twenty-six people were transported to area hospitals, while rescuers worked for two hours to extricate the driver. One of the physicians rode with him in the ambulance to Upstate, where he was cared for until he was released.
Members of the team staffs the infirmary at the New York State Fair, provides medical oversight for large-scale events throughout Central New York and typically are summoned to incidents involving large numbers of ill or injured people.
Upstate’s physician responders provide a service residents are glad to have – but hope never to need.