Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Elderly, ailing transported from Fairgrounds

Posted @ 1:15 PM

Throughout the night at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, ambulance crews transported more than 200 elderly and medically fragile evacuees to medical facilities as far away as El Centro.

As of 10 a.m., 100 infirm people were still at the fairgrounds but ambulance strike teams were arriving to re-evacuate them elsewhere. Dr. Cesar Aristeiguieta, director of the state's Emergency Medical Services Authority, said the plan is to finish the evacuation by 5 p.m. today.

Yesterday the Del Mar Fairgrounds became the refuge for roughly 1,200 evacuees, including about 300 convalescent home patients from Villa Rancho Bernardo. Many of the patients were wheelchair-bound, bed-ridden or on oxygen.

"The number of patients that showed up here was really unanticipated," said Aristeiguieta. "Frankly, I think they did a marvelous job."

Aristeiguieta was referring to the team of volunteer doctors, nurses, and other civilians who pitched in yesterday to help the Villa Rancho Bernardo residents and staff.

Aristeiguieta arrived last night on the heels of his boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who conducted a tour of the facility around 9 p.m.

"We are trying to sort out the people that have the respiratory. problems and the old vulnerable people who need the help," the governor said.

He said that it was clear that many of the people at the fairgrounds needed to be transported to medical facilities.

But then he commented, "I'm not a medical expert. I'm just here to make sure there is follow through, that nothing falls through the cracks." The former action-hero paused and laughed: "Hands on action"

For the non-ill evacuees at the fairgrounds, the night was relatively peaceful, although some were awakened in the wee hours as ambulances continued to arrive and EMTs were rolling people out on gurneys.

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