Medical tent may curb trips to LMH

Last year's Wakarusa Fest generated about 60 visits to Lawrence Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

There probably won't be as many this year.

"I'm sure we'll get some," said Dr. Scott Robinson, director of the hospital's emergency department. "But there's really been an effort made to have things out there so people don't have to come here unless it's really an emergency."


¢ LMH is staffing a nonemergency tent.

¢ Festival organizers have contracted with a medical services firm to have doctors on the scene.

¢ Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical have set up a medical unit with both landline and radio contact with the LMH emergency room.

¢ The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has set up an emergency preparedness command post.

"We're actually running a dispatch center out of here," said Lt. Doug Woods, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

The festival site includes a landing pad for ambulance helicopters.

An ambulance crew is on duty at all times. The crew also has two motorized carts similar to those used to transport injured football players off the field.

"There are three levels of care out there," Robinson said. "That's pretty darn good."

Robinson said fire and medical crews view the festival as an opportunity for "mass casualty training."

He added, "I sat in on some planning meetings, and I have to say I was impressed."

By 6 p.m. Thursday, about 15 people had been treated at the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical tent.

"They've seen about that many at the LMH tent," said fire captain and medical advance commander Lexie Engleman.

"This morning, we saw mostly cuts and bruises and sprained ankles," she said. "This afternoon it's been mostly heat exhaustion. Things seem to be going really well."

Engleman said two festivalgoers had been taken to the hospital - one in the morning, one in the late afternoon.

"I really can't comment on them because of privacy laws," she said.

At last year's festival, a 29-year-old man died of a drug overdose.

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