Hospitals prepare for influx of visitors during eclipse - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Hospitals prepare for influx of visitors during eclipse

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WSIL -- Emergency responders and hospitals around the region are preparing for thousands of outsiders to visit the area for the eclipse.

Carbondale expects 50,000 visitors to cram into town. Other communities aren't expecting quite as many, but they could still double their populations, which makes keeping everyone safe all the more challenging.

The solar eclipse on August 21st is something first responders across southern Illinois have been preparing for the last couple of years.

"The real intense planning started five to six months ago," said Union County Ambulance Service Director Grant Capel.

He says they plan to divide Union County into three sections to make sure they can respond to any emergency, no matter where it happens.

"There's an effort being made to make sure we don't let the interstate become too crowded, and that we get these vehicles ushered off the interstate so we don't have any accidents. We're trying to avoid situation by being proactive, by putting people out there and keep traffic moving," added Capel.

Mobile crews will also be stationed in crowded areas like Blue Sky Vineyard and Bald Knob Cross, and they're beefing up their staff.

"We are going to double what we'd have on a daily basis leading up to the event," Capel said.

Hospitals are also getting ready.

Union County Hospital's CEO Jim Farris told News 3 the biggest concern any hospital would have during a crowded event like the eclipse is a major emergency.

"For a hospital, it's a sudden influx of multiple patients with multiple injuries that would tax the number of staff we have and physicians," said Farris.

In addition, the hospital has been  working with its local and regional partners, like the Union County Ambulance Service.

Despite the stress that comes with planning, he remains optimistic. 

"We always have disaster preparedness plans in place that we review. We practice to make sure we can handle the large influx of patients. so we think we'll be in good shape," added Farris.

There are similar plans and partnerships at hospitals across southern Illinois. Officials say they want people to know that no matter where an emergency happens, help will be there as quickly as possible.

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