PennDOT and hospital response to I-78 crash

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DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A huge pileup on Interstate 78 in Lebanon County Saturday morning claimed three lives. Dozens of patients were taken to 11 area hospitals, and it took almost a full day to get the interstate reopened.

In addition to police and firefighters, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation also came to the aid of the people involved in the crash.

The Medical Center saw about 15 patients after the accident.

Dr. Scott Armen, the trauma program medical director, said, "The collaboration and teamwork that happens every day was epitomized on Saturday when this event happened And thank goodness the patients are doing extremely well in this terrible event."

Armen with the emergency department said it was a team effort within the hospital.

He said, "This is a special place people just showed up to help. People from faculties like anesthesia, neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, both of our faculty surgeons and the residents showed up to help out. We had an incredible amount of resources. It was very well organized. Ran very smoothly."

PennDOT also had its hands full after the major crash.

Fritzi Schreffler with PennDOT said, "There's a lot of material that gets spilled when something like this happens. So we're out there making sure we are putting salt down, making sure we are plowing as best we can, so that traffic can be allowed on it."

Officials said they are not sure if the multi-vehicle crash was prompted by a snow squall or from a snow drift.

Schreffler said, "Our role was one of cleanup. We helped obviously with road closure in order for emergency vehicles and other vehicles to get there to help the people."

But she said people should always be prepared, especially in this type of weather.

"We have hazardous weather conditions signs that are up and you need to adjust your speed, you need to adjust your following distance and be prepared for the unexpected because you can't predict that a snow squall is going to pop up right at that very moment," she said.

She said a person's first line of defense is their seatbelt.

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