Faulk County has many volunteer and professional people who respond to emergencies. Emergencies in rural areas are for the most part, uncommon. However, when they occur, they tend to be severe, usually involve injury (trauma), and they test the limits of the local Emergency Response (EMS). In addition to actual emergencies, local, regional, and state groups cooperate together to practice the response to “mock” scenarios to identify areas for improvement.
SD Department of Health has developed a State-Wide Trauma System that involves all hospitals and emergency services in the State. At the scene of an accident, optimal care is started by First responders or EMT’s, who notify the hospital of the severity of the trauma, and bring in the injured person to the nearest appropriate Emergency Room. Once in the ER, the trauma team follows the American College of Surgeons protocol on Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS). This focuses on 5 main areas of patient care (ABCDE), provide initial resuscitation, ask essential history, and quickly arrange for transfer of a stable patient to the next highest level of trauma care, if appropriate.
The main focus of ATLS is not to identify or “cure” all of the initial injuries. It is to maintain an Airway while continuing to stabilize the spine to prevent paralysis, assist with Breathing, maintain Circulation with control of blood loss, determine Disability (brain or spine damage), and Expose the patient while maintaining an appropriate Environment (ABCDE). Often immediately life-threatening problems need to be treated before transfer. Some people are transferred to more than one facility (transferred in stages), to fix life-threatening problems that only become evident with time, or to get the patient to a higher level of care (surgeon), as quickly as possible, even though other injuries may be present.
Each hospital in SD is designated as a trauma center, the level of which depends on what types of medical and surgical care exist at each facility. Faulkton Area medical Center is designated as a Trauma Receiving Hospital, which means that is does not have a local surgeon, but it does have doctors and midlevel providers who are certified in Advanced Cardiac and Trauma Life support, and who cover the Emergency Room 24/7.