The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 23, 2013

With a medical staff of 563, Jamboree prepared for nearly any contingency

THE SUMMIT — Every war has its characteristic injury.

At the last Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Dr. Glen Ault observed 17 cases of appendicitis.

“We had a run,” he says.

The 2013 National Scout Jamboree, on the other hand, has played host to only one appendectomy. Its injuries, instead, have to do with an increase in rigorous activities like mountain biking, skate boarding and BMX biking.

Wrist injuries from such sports have been common at The Summit. As have abrasions, contusions, soft tissue injuries and fractures.

Two portable X-ray units have been “quite busy,” says Ault, a surgeon and associate dean of the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

There have been false alarms, too. One kid panicked because he thought he got his first tick bite. Turned out it was his first pimple. And a couple of suspected heart attacks among adult leaders luckily came back negative.

As chief medical officer, Ault pulled together 563 medical personnel who staff 19 medical stations and the Jamboree Health Lodge for more advanced or complicated cases.

Though they are still pulling together numbers, Ault estimates that about 500 people are being treated per day, needing everything from a Band-Aid to an operation.

Heat-related injuries are common, but response to those was mastered at the sweltering Fort A.P. Hill site. “Hydrate” may well be the Jamboree’s most widely-uttered mantra.

Over 200 physicians from around the world came to the event with diverse specialties. Their credentialling was expedited by an act of the West Virginia Legislature.

“Pretty much everything you can imagine, I’ve got here on site,” says Ault.

He even has a team of psychologists and psychiatrists, ready to treat everything from homesickness to an honest to goodness crisis, such as happened at the 2005 Jamboree, when four adult leaders died from an electrical accident.

Dr. Juan Salgado, a Puerto Rican gynecologist, supervises nurses and EMTs at a basecamp and at The Summit’s climbing area. He says the Jamboree prompted a refresher on other areas of medicine.

The medical team did plenty of preparation ahead of time, such as publishing treatment plans and providing training on electronic equipment.

A series of medical summits gathered key staff and established operating protocols.

They integrated their plans with Jan-Care Ambulance, three regional hospitals, medical facilities in Charleston, the West Virginia National Guard and the Army North Joint Task Force.

The military used the event as a training exercise.

About 15 people per day are evacuated from the site to a local hospital.

“Every day there are things we’re not set up to do,” says Ault.

A “external interface team” visits kids in hospitals and brings them back after discharge.

The goal of the medical responders is to keep the kids safe and get them back into the program as quickly as possible, says Ault.

“I saw a kid (Friday) in the Jamboree Health Lodge that had a splint on his wrist and scrapes on his knee and an ice pack on his other knee,” he says. “I asked him, ‘How did you do that?’ He said, ‘It’s a great story but it doesn’t matter, because this is awesome.’”

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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