DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - One westbound lane on I-16 in Laurens County is closed Thursday as transportation officials assess the damage from yesterday's fatal crashes.
The Georgia State Patrol is recreating the pile up to figure out what happened. Four people died and nine were sent to Fairview Park Hospital with injuries. Hospital officials say they were able to act quickly because the staff prepares for all kinds of situations.
Westbound traffic near mile marker 37 is down to one lane. All that remains from the fatal pile up is the smell of burnt rubber, charred concrete, and burned trees. It's a completely different scene, both on the interstate and at the Fairview Park Hospital.
"Immediately we went into a heightened alert status," Bo Drinkard, the hospital's emergency manager, said.
It's a status Drinkard says the staff prepares for throughout the year.
"We have plans in place to handle surges and influxes of patients such as pulling beds from different floors, calling in extra staff, pulling staff from inside the hospital to come down and help us," Drinkard said.
The hospital conducts drills for all kinds of emergencies, including mass casualties, fires and bio-hazards. Mario Garner, the hospital's chief operating officer, says they prepare that way they're ready when a real situation strikes.
mass casualties, fires, bio-hazards,
"How do we respond so that in the actual circumstances we're all very well prepared," Garner said. "There's no frantic actions that need to occur. We're all very well prepared, we know what to do, and how to respond."
It's that response and pro activeness that saved so many lives. Although it took a crash to test the hospital's preparedness, officials say they're glad to know their plan works.
"You test this and you test it and you test it, but until you get a real event, that's when you find out how the system works. Our system worked very well," Drinkard said.
Eight of the nine victims were released from the hospital. One patient was sent to another center for treatment. Hospital officials credit yesterday's success to the hard work of its staff.