This Is Not a Drill

Credit: Steve Green

The movie theater at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt was one of three areas turned into a temporary patient unit to care for dozens of children exposed to carbon monoxide at a Nashville school in January. The hospital swung into action when it confirmed that at least two students first thought by school officials to have the flu instead had carbon monoxide poisoning, triggering the largest single-day mass casualty event since the hospital opened in 2004. Altogether 77 patients were evaluated, with 43 children and four adults admitted for successful treatment. “It was an amazing sight,” says Dr. Jeff Balser, MD’90, PhD’90, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Our staff, highly experienced with managing the anxieties and special needs of young patients, supported families that were literally tethered to oxygen masks for 24 continuous hours, entertaining them with games, movies and other diversions.”