Local doctors propose national guidelines for mass casualty treatment

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, September 11, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---As we take time to mark 9/11 a couple of doctors at the Medical College of Georgia are looking ahead. They say they can't prevent tragedy, but they believe they've found a way to drastically cut back on the lives lost.

You can call him a local hero. Dr. Richard Schwartz has dedicated most of his life to saving other people's lives, and he's got a wall of honors to prove it.

"I'm an emergency medical physician," said Dr. Schwartz. "I see people coming into the emergency department, and if we have somebody who dies needlessly that's just not acceptable."

He recently teamed up with a national board to develop a set of guidelines when tragedy strikes. "I think that without question this system has the potential to save thousands of lives."

It's called the SALT system. It stands for Sort Assess Life Saving Interventions Treatment.

"It's simple," said Dr. Schwartz. "When your blood pressure gets up, and you get excited...you have something to fall back on."

The group is recommending a color coded tagging system ranging from "immediate care" to "dead."

"What it does is it gives you a very simple process for sorting the casualties on who needs an immediate life saving intervention and who needs to get to the hospital immediately," said Dr. Schwartz.

It's just his small way of making a big difference after a major tragedy.

"We need to help people," said Dr. Schwartz. "We need to create systems that are simple and that save people's lives in the end."

Dr. Schwartz is one of two professors from MCG who took part in the project.

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