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Utah AirMed joins eclipse medical effort

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

File – University of Utah Health Care’s new EC145 helicopter lands in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012. For the first time ever, the University of Utah plans to activate an extra medical helicopter and preposition it in Wyoming for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21, part of a major medical preparedness effort.

JACKSON, Wyoming — For the first time ever, the University of Utah plans to activate an extra medical helicopter and preposition it in Wyoming for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21.

It’s part of a major effort to be ready for routine medical problems — and even a large-scale disaster — as millions of people may head for states where the solar eclipse will be total.

All across Wyoming, they’re getting ready for an invasion. And in Idaho too. Roads might be jammed, possibly for days.

“Folks are going to have medical emergencies, and we’ve got to be able to get to them,” said Idaho Falls Fire Chief Dave Hanneman, who is serving as incident commander for the eclipse.

Hanneman’s command is designed to coordinate the response of numerous agencies in eastern Idaho. Planners are bracing for up to a half-million visitors just in that region.

“Roughly speaking, doubling the population for potentially four days,” said Coleen Niemann, spokeswoman for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.

The hospital serves a vast region, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The medical center has banned any vacations by staff members from Aug. 19-22, the days surrounding the eclipse.

“We’ve never done that before, to…

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