As the Persian Gulf war continues with allied bombers pummeling entrenched Iraqi ground troops, hospitals across the nation, including Anne Arundel's Crownsville Hospital Center, have been placed on standbyto treat the wounded.
Crownsville was alerted last Tuesday, the same day hundreds of Iraqi troops launched a surprise attack on Saudi Arabia, seizing the border town of Khafji before being repulsed.
The 327-bed psychiatric hospital has promised to reserve 60 beds to treat soldiers suffering from nervous breakdowns or other war-related psychiatric problems.
The beds have been set aside in case military hospitals, such as the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, cannot handle all the wounded, said Helen Ladue, assistant superintendent of Crownsville.
Crownsville is one of 31 Maryland hospitalsparticipating in the National Disaster Medical System, an emergency plan to treat the wounded in major disasters. When a freight train crashed into an Amtrak train in Baltimore County three years ago, wounded passengers were rushed to some of the 31 hospitals, said Andy Trohanis, a shock trauma worker at the University of Maryland's Institutefor Emergency Services, which oversees the state's emergency system.
The National Disaster Medical System is a federal agency that coordinates evacuating and transporting patients to hospitals during wars or disasters.
Wounded soldiers would be flown to Andrews Air Force Base or Baltimore-Washington International Airport and then transported to Crownsville if the hospital is needed, Trohanis said. Information on the other participating hospitals is classified, he said.