An Amtrak passenger train derailed around 4 PM yesterday near Joplin, Montana. Of the roughly 150 people on the train, three were killed and an unknown number were injured. Joplin is in northcentral Montana, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There are a couple small critical access hospitals in the region, but any passenger seriously injured will be transported to a “big” hospital. The closest big hospital is 100 miles away in Great Falls. The next-closest big hospital is in Helena, another 90 miles down the road.
Unfortunately for any of the passengers on that train, the Helena hospital has already implemented crisis standards of care, because their critical care units and their morgue are completely full. The Great Falls hospital just asked for twenty National Guard troops to assist them due to their load of COVID patients. As of last report, Billings and Bozeman hospitals were planning on implementing surge and/or crisis care plans.
Montana is a beautiful part of the world, and normally I’d recommend that anyone interested in seeing a beautiful place visit there. But, when your case curve looks like this, any human activity, from recreation to just passing through, is far more dangerous than usual if you’re unlucky enough to get injured.
(Side note about Montana: Jon Tester could be as big a drama queen as Sinema or Manchin, but he avoids that temptation and generally has a clear-eyed view of how DC works.)