According to the Houston Zoo’s website, the Zoo’s dedicated staff works around the clock to ensure that the Zoo is always running smoothly for the safety and wellbeing of the Zoo’s “residents” and the over 2 million guests who visit each year.
Running a zoo has its challenges: heat related emergencies, broken bones, lacerations, abrasions, etc . The residents can get unruly. Fortunately, there’s a world-class hospital right across the street.
Founded in 1914, the Houston Zoo moved into its current location in Hermann Park in 1922 with a small collection of animals representing a handful of species. Three years later, Hermann Hospital opened its doors across the street with 100 beds and a staff of 109 physicians.
Since that time, the two have grown up together. The Zoo now boasts over 6,000 residents representing over 900 species. Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center has become a world-class hospital with more than 1,000 beds and over 5,500 affiliated physicians.
As one of only two certified Level I trauma centers in the Greater Houston area, Memorial Hermann-TMC provides 24/7 emergency and trauma care to residents across the South Texas region, including its closest neighbors, right across the street.
While the hospital’s ER is always available to Zoo staff and visitors, there are times when an injury doesn’t warrant a trip across the street or when immediate action must be taken until emergency response personnel can arrive. To arm Zoo staff with the skills and knowledge they need to handle these situations, the Memorial Hermann Life Flight® team provides hands-on training.
Memorial Hermann Life Flight Chief Flight Nurse and Education Manager Rodolfo “Rudy” Cabrera says that given Memorial Hermann’s status as a Level 1 trauma center, running one of the busiest trauma flight services in the country, his team is uniquely qualified. “We take care of trauma patients every day, and we apply that in-the-trenches knowledge to the hands-on training we conduct at the Zoo. We’re not just teaching out of a textbook.”
The Memorial Hermann team conducts onsite first aid training at the Zoo, to enable Zoo staff to deal with conditions such as shortness of breath, choking, and lacerations and other injuries. In 2017, they added Stop-the-Bleed training, providing instruction in applying tourniquets, wound packing and other techniques to prevent exsanguination.
An Active Shooter class is planned for later this year, to help prepare Zoo staff for the unthinkable. “Unfortunately, terrorists target busy places where crowds gather. The Zoo realized they had to be prepared for any eventuality. We will train them in how to take cover, what to use as a weapon and how to take control of the situation,” says Cabrera. “Hopefully they’ll never have to use these skills, but they know they must be prepared.”
Soon, Zoo employees who have been treated for injuries in the hospital’s ER will be able to receive follow-up care at Memorial Hermann’s Occupational Medicine Clinic at Memorial Hermann-TMC, which has traditionally only been available to Memorial Hermann employees.
To help Zoo staff stay healthy, Memorial Hermann provides annual onsite biometric screening and flu shots for Zoo employees.
Bill Boras, director of Occupational Medicine Services at Memorial Hermann-TMC, says Memorial Hermann offers a “unique, three-tiered approach” that gives Houston-area employees, including Zoo staff, access to:
Memorial Hermann has enjoyed building a long-term relationship with its neighbor across the street. Life Flight paramedic Josh Cools, has participated in first aid and Stop the Bleed training at the Zoo, sums it up by saying, “It’s a fun working relationship.”
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