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Published on September 14, 2012

Hospitals Reflect on School Bus Accident

September 14, 2012 - Ottawa, IL

In the wake of Monday’s accident involving a school bus full of children and a pickup truck north of Marseilles, officials from local hospitals and other responding agencies were able to find the silver lining. Despite the grave circumstances, many agreed that outcomes could have been far worse and commended one another for their efforts in working to safely transport and treat the victims.

“Our hearts go out to everyone who was involved with this terrible accident,” said Robert Chaffin, President and CEO of OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa, where at least 12 of the victims were taken. “We cannot stress enough how fortunate we all are that there were no fatalities. I think a lot of that is due to the outstanding efforts of our local responders and health care workers. We were also grateful to have had the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis with us in spirit and prayer as we enacted our Emergency Operations Plan.”

Michael Callahan, EMS Captain/Medical Director of Marseilles Area Ambulance Service, was the Incident Commander at the scene and echoes Chaffin’s sentiments. “In addition to OSF Saint Elizabeth, we sent victims to Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers in Morris, St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator, and Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich. At each of these facilities, when the ambulance doors opened, there were doctors and nurses ready and waiting to care for the kids. I could not be happier with the way everything went on the scene and at the receiving hospitals. Thank you to everyone for all of your hard work and dedication.”

St. Mary’s Hospital treated ten of the children and the bus driver. “It’s unimaginable to think of what these parents were going through on Monday, and we send our thoughts and prayers to all of those involved,” said John Flanders, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Hospital. “But in the wake of this tragedy, we can still be proud of the way our regional community came together as a team. It’s important that we recognize all of the professionals from around the area for their superb job at handling the situation and ensuring the safety and well-being of all involved. The community really rallied together in this time of need, and without this joint effort the outcome could have been much worse.” 

Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich received five of the injured children. “It was a terrible accident and we’re all thankful there was not anyone more seriously injured,” said Dave Proulx, Valley West Assistant Vice President of Health System Facilities. “When our ER received the call that we would be receiving five of the injured children, we were mobilized in minutes with more physicians and staff ready to care for both the children and their anxious families. We’re proud to have played a role in helping our neighbors to the south. The coordination among the emergency responders was impressive. Thankfully, most children are back at home with their parents, and will recover quickly.”

After receiving news of the school bus accident, Morris Hospital immediately enacted its Emergency Operations Plan to ensure that sufficient facilities, space, personnel, supplies, communications, and other resources were available to accommodate care of an influx of victims. A total of 16 patients were treated at Morris Hospital for injuries related to the accident. 

“Our thoughts remain with the families of those involved in this unfortunate school bus accident, some of whom are children and relatives of our employees,” says Mark Steadham, President & CEO of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers. “We commend hospital staff, physicians and rescue personnel from throughout the region for their excellent response and care.”

Hospitals and other health care personnel often perform drills throughout the year to train for and improve response efforts in the event of real-life emergencies. The advanced training and preparation by our local providers, many of whom are parents themselves, helped ensure the best possible outcomes for many area children and their families this week.

OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center
Karen Brodbeck, OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center

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