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Change Is Coming In Philadelphia's Citywide Mass Casualty Plan

By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's Office of Emergency Management will ask police officers responding to a mass casualty incident like Amtrak 188 derailment in the future to avoid their first instinct to scoop up victims and take them to the hospital in the back of police vehicles.

Emergency Management Director Samantha Phillips says many heroic police officers responding to the cries for help the night of the Amtrak crash carried the injured from the scene to their cars and vans and rushed them to a hospital.

But Phillips says revisions to the city's mass casualty plan will direct police in the future to work closely with emergency medical service personnel from the fire department in evaluating the injuries and then allowing ambulances to move victims out.

"Make sure that we're transporting people by the right vehicle based on their injury, but also to the right facility. The worst thing to do is get into a situation where we have to do a lot of interfacility transportation once they arrive at a hospital."

The night of the Amtrak derailment, some hospitals were overwhelmed because the injured were brought to them.

Phillips says there's no intent to ignite a turf war and no directive absolutely prohibiting police from employing a "scoop and go" procedure at a scene.

Rather, she says, the plan is designed to improve coordination of all the resources the city has to respond to incidents.

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