BOSTON – It’s the kind of medical emergency that worried officials when they planned an eight-week closure of the Sumner Tunnel leading from East Boston into the city. Human organs had to be transported twice Thursday from Logan Airport to a major hospital downtown.
State transportation officials and the Massachusetts State Police closed westbound traffic on the only alternative route available, the Ted Williams Tunnel, so that emergency crews could cross. The shutdowns were brief, but one was during the morning rush hour commute around 8:15am.
At 11 am the tunnel was closed again for the second organ transfer.
“When doctors need to do surgery, they have to do surgery. You know it’s not something we can wait until later in the afternoon,” said Jonathan Gulliver, director of Massachusetts State Highways. He said it would be standard procedure when ambulances have to move through it, too.
It’s a major concern for East Boston resident Stuart Landers, who sits on the state’s Board of Public Health. “My biggest concern is that there will be unnecessary deaths associated with the slowness in trying to get to one of the major teaching hospitals,” he said.
The East Boston Neighborhood Health Center has an emergency room, but it doesn’t have the resources of the newer hospitals on the other side of the tunnels. “This is why it is so important to deploy additional resources,” Landers said.
Gulliver said Thursday’s tunnel modifications showed they could work. “The timing is obviously difficult, but our goal here is if someone needs life-saving procedures, they get them,” Gulliver said.
In this case, he said, the members made it through in time.
For updated traffic conditions, visit Mass 511 website.
For more information on Sumner Tunnel shutdowns and turns, click here.
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