In the event of a catastrophic disaster on Capitol Hill, Attending Physician John Eisold now has a new, and very distinguished, emergency response team at his disposal.
On Thursday, members of the newly formed Congressional Medical and Dental Doctors Caucus met with Eisold to discuss how they could use their various expertise during medical crises on and around the Hill.
After organizing the caucus in April under a pair of co-chairmen — Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), an OB-GYN, and Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), an internist — the various doctors and dentists decided that offering their services to the Attending Physician’s office should be one of their first priorities.
“This is a matter of coordinating all the skills that we’ve got,” Gingrey said. “In the event of a mass casualty situation we want to be part of a team.”
Calling the effort “a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of all the talent” available in Congress, Eisold said the caucus volunteers would probably be called on to utilize their basic first aid and stabilization skill if an emergency were to strike the Hill.
“[Rep.] Charles Boustany [R-La.] is a thoracic surgeon, he’s not going to do any heart transplants on the front lawn and I don’t think [Rep.] Tom Price [R-Ga.] is going to do any hip replacements,” Gingrey said. “But we have to know ahead of time where to go to meet Doc Eisold and his staff for directions and how we would fit into the overall scheme of things.”
At the meeting, Eisold laid out a number of steps that need to take place for the 10 volunteers to be brought into the Capitol’s emergency action plan. First, a location needs to be set for the Members to report to in the event of an emergency and if telephone or e-mail communications on the Hill go down.
Secondly, Eisold wants to familiarize the Members on where prepositioned medical supplies are located and where health units are expected to be set up in the case of a disaster. Eisold hopes to schedule a medical supply walk-through of the Capitol with the Congressional volunteers later this summer.
And lastly, Eisold plans to work with caucus members to set up refresher training courses in first aid techniques and to familiarize volunteers with defibrillators and other equipment that may be needed.
“We’re all at different levels as well as at different times from our practice, some folks have been out for a period of time and haven’t had any clinical activity for years,” said Price, an orthopedic surgeon. “But the important thing is that the Hippocratic oath doesn’t stop when you become a Member of Congress and we’re here to help when there’s a crisis or an incident where we might be of service.”