With Los Angeles bracing itself for 'Carmageddon' -- an unprecedented 53-hour shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of one of the city's (and the country's!) busiest freeways -- local representatives have prepared as they would for any emergency. Celebrities have even pitched in to spread the word, as warning road signs dot practically the entire state.
But, while local officials are encouraging residents to leave the area or stay home, what if you have a personal health emergency during this larger emergency? For those in need of urgent medical attention, the idea of being stuck in a three-day traffic jam takes on a whole new meaning.
“If you have an emergency, please call 911 first rather than trying to drive yourself or a loved one to the hospital,” Shannon O’Kelley, chief operations officer for UCLA Health System, said in a release, explaining that ambulances are prepared to find the best and most expedient ways to get patients to the hospital.
ABC News reports that neighborhoods have been prepped with fire engines, ambulances and air ambulances.
For non-urgent medical appointments today and Monday, UCLA suggests rescheduling if traffic is a concern -- they also urge visitors and guests to stay home, if possible.
And those who truly do have an emergency don't need to worry that their doctors, nurses and other hospital employees will be stuck in traffic, too.
While UCLA Today reports that more than half of staffers live in an area that would cut them off from access, the hospital system has arranged for key staff members, including doctors, technicians and even air conditioning repair personel, to camp out nearby. Their Santa Monica hospital, for instance, has purchased and rented rollaway beds and cots to house people in their new, still unopened, wing.
The various hospitals have also stocked extra medical supplies and thousands of lunch boxes to feed their workforce.
"We don't quite know what to expect," William Dunn, UCLA's Director of Emergency Preparedness told MSNBC. "If it's the worst case scenario, we're going to be prepared. If it's the best case scenario, we'll be happy, and I'll be able to play a little more solitaire."