Philly hospitals lauded for quick, coordinated reponse to Amtrak injuries

     Dr. Karen Murphy, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, presents Dr. Larry Kaiser of Temple University Health System with a certificate honoring the hospitals efforts during the Amtrak train derailment on May 12. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Dr. Karen Murphy, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, presents Dr. Larry Kaiser of Temple University Health System with a certificate honoring the hospitals efforts during the Amtrak train derailment on May 12. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

    Philadelphia hospitals have been heralded for preventing the death toll from last month’s Amtrak train derailment from climbing higher.

    Eight people died, and hundreds were injured in the May 12 crash.

    Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy presented awards Tuesday to Temple University Hospital and 10 medical centers for their swift response to the crash.

    “We will forever mourn the loss of that occurred in the Amtrak tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families that were affected,” she said. “The death toll could have been much worse, if not for the swift action on the part of Temple and the part of all the hospitals that we celebrate today.”

    Temple Hospital president and CEO John Kastanis described it as a giant team effort requiring massive coordination.

    “When a catastrophe with mass casualties such as this occurs, the eyes of the city, the country, and even the world are upon us and our work,” he said. “In the midst of this disaster, the Philadelphia health care community stepped up in a huge way, and handled this crisis with skill, compassion, coordination and professionalism.”

    Temple conducts drills and exercises each year to prepare for disasters like the derailment, Kastanis said.

    The hospital is still treating one patient from the crash, but he is no longer in critical condition.

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