INTERVIEW: Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center prepares for eclipse

Photo Courtesy: Coleen Niemann via Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center

Coleen Niemann works as the marketing director for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. She is responsible for hospital communications, advertising campaigns, and media interactions. Coleen Niemann spoke with Neal Larson on KID Newsradio about how Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center is preparing for the upcoming Great American Eclipse in August. 

Listen to the full interview below:




Preparing for the Great American Eclipse often brings traffic, hotels and temporary business booms to mind. But, Coleen Niemann, marketing director for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, says the organization has also been preparing for months.

“We are absolutely prepared to take care of anyone who comes in,” Coleen Niemann, marketing director for Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center told KID Newradio. “It’s more elevated when you have an influx of people.”

The highly anticipated August event is expected to bring an additional tens of thousands of visitors to the southeast Idaho region.

“We’re focused on three primary areas for operations for our hospital,” Niemann said.

The hospital’s preparations include scheduling enough staff to handle an increase in patients, strengthening communication efforts and ensuring all necessary equipment is available to give proper care to anyone who might come in during the eclipse week.

But, Niemann says she’s concerned about people’s ability to get in touch with emergency staff.

“I am worried about the high probability that cell phones will not be working,” Niemann said.

Niemann says during the highest concentration of visitors, people should definitely use 911 in the event of life-threatening emergencies. But, where emergencies are not as severe, visitors and locals should consider driving to their nearest hospital. Locals can also help by letting visitors know where places like police stations and hospitals in case the usual means of smartphone maps are unavailable.

She also says people should be aware the multiple calls to law enforcement about the same incident could burden phone lines.

“In a lot of ways we’re going old school,” Niemann said. “We have to think about how we communicated before we had cell phones in our hand.”

Locals should prepare now, Niemann says, by finding out who in their neighborhoods have land line phones and exploring alternative ways to communicate with families and first responders.

“Texting is the last service to go when there’s a strain on the towers,” Niemann said.

Anyone can download the app Code Red to text 911 or emergency services, which Niemann says may come in handy during the eclipse.

Between now and the eclipse on August 21, Niemann says the hospitals and medical services in the region will continue to coordinate efforts and services.

“The hospitals are definitely in communication, we have to make sure we all understand what services are available during the eclipse and at any given time so patients are treated appropriately.”