Don’t be fooled by the title of this blog entry: We participated in a housewide disaster exercise Wednesday afternoon, and while it was only a drill, it was certainly something to take seriously.
Wednesday’s exercise was designed to test our emergency evacuation policy. To do this, we acted like a tornado had hit the West Tower and majorly damaged the 2nd floor on the north side. The drill simulated that this unit was full of patients and staff, and some visitors were present too.
Given the region of the country we live in, this scenario is a very real possibility. And since we’re quickly coming up on tornado season, this was a poignant time to get everyone thinking in this direction.
When the Code Triage Type 3 Internal went out, guess who was the administrator on call? That’s right. Yours truly.
Betsy Collins-Clark was house manager Wednesday and was awesome help in the command Center. Thanks for appearing on my blog, Betsy!
As incident commander, I got a first-hand view of our response to this situation. (I also got to wear an official smock and they gave me my own radio, but that’s beside the point.) The POINT is, I worked through this drill in the command center and appreciated the participation of everyone else as well. While it may have felt a little awkward, or even silly (see the guy in the smock above), this exercise was an important learning opportunity that we took very seriously. What we found out, among a lot of positives, was we still have a lot to learn.
I think you might agree with me that the gravity of knowing this kind of event could actually happen—any day now, really—makes being prepared a little more urgent. After the drill was over and I got back to my office, I read the emails that came from the command center during the exercise. I knew they weren’t real, but the details didn’t seem outlandish at all. I hope you all realize it’s so important that we practice these situations because they really could happen and we will need to be ready. We need to be ready for the patients we have within our walls—and for those who will seek our help in the aftermath of a disaster. There are few other entities that have such important roles in times of crisis.
As an organization, we’ll continue to prepare for the unknown with exercises like Wednesday’s. Thanks to a dedicated group, our Emergency Management Team, we’ll be presented with more learning opportunities so we can respond in a calm, cool and collected way. I pass along my appreciation to everyone who participated in the drill, and to all of the Emergency Management Team members who planned the event:
§ Marilyn Bicak
§ Nicki Bohl
§ Chris Campbell
§ Heather Christensen
§ Tim Hoffman
§ Sue Hunter
§ Renae Jacobsen
§ Sue Jepsen
§ Julie Keaschall
§ Marlys Kossman
§ Martha Lofquist
§ Shane Melenbacker
§ Rachel Stubbs
§ Doug Wulf
PS: Shane Melenbacker snapped a couple other pictures in the West Tower during the drill. These were fun to see since I was stationed in the command center.