Hospitals prepare for casualties

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Thai hospitals and medical officials said on Monday they were on alert for heavy casualties if security forces attempt to disperse anti-government Red Shirt protesters from the capital. Hospitals in Bangkok and more than 20 provinces under state of emergency were prepared “24-hours to handle a massive emergency,” said Pansiri Kullanartsiri, Thailand’s deputy public health minister. Thousands of protesters in Bangkok defied a deadline to leave their fortified encampment in a downtown district on Monday despite authorities’ threat of a crackdown after four days of street clashes between troops and protesters left at least 35 people dead and 244 wounded.
Chatree Chareoncheewakul, secretary general of the Emergency Medical Institute of Thailand, said 44 hospitals had been put on alert in anticipation of a crackdown on the demonstration camp. “More than 1,000 beds and more than 1,000 of our staff are working in the field,” he said.
“But after two rescue workers were shot dead, our staff are discouraged, so I want to say that we are neutral and work to save peoples’ lives.”
Since Reds began their street demonstrations more than two months ago 66 people have been killed and about 1,700 injured.
Jongjet Aowjepong, director of the Police General Hospital, which is located inside the Red’s sprawling Bangkok protest site, said his hospital had kept medical personnel on standby since last week. “Our hospital has 600 beds and we have reserved 400 beds for an emergency,” he said. “We also stopped receiving outpatients and conducting major operations except emergencies, and stockpiled up to 600 units of blood.

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