How a small-town hospital saved patients after horrific bus crash near Bryce Canyon

PANGUITCH, Utah — Hospital administrators at the Intermountain Garfield Memorial Hospital shared Monday, for the first time, about how they handled the horrific bus accident near Bryce Canyon last week.

More patients were sent through their doors than they are used to handling, but that did not prevent the small-town hospital from saving lives.

Hospital administrator Alberto Vasquez said it was amazing to watch his medical community come together to save complete strangers.

“I’m sure inside we were screaming, but outside we were cool and collected and I’m very proud to be a part of this team,” Vasquez said.

The hospital, located in Panguitch, Garfield County, can take 15 patients into critical care. In comparison, Cedar City Hospital can care for 44 patients.

Deann Brown, a nurse administrator, said this was the largest critical accident that Garfield Memorial has ever had to handle.

“We have to work on a daily basis. We’re friends outside of work and so we kind of know what to expect,” she said.

Working together, the nurses used a language services system to talk with their Chinese patients. Some were flown to Dixie and Provo hospitals by medical helicopter, while others were transferred by ambulance for more extensive treatment.

As of Monday, there are 12 patients still in Intermountain hospitals across the state. Three are in critical condition, one in serious condition and eight patients are in fair condition.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re from China or Italy or from Panguitch, we’re going to treat you the same way,” Vasquez said. “We’re really caring for our neighbors, even if you may be from across the ocean.”

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