Pella Chronicle

July 26, 2013

Centerville mock disaster drill Aug. 1


The Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — Disasters can strike quickly, without warning and recent events in other parts of the country is a sobering reminder. With that in mind, Mercy Medical Center is sponsoring a multi-agency mock disaster drill on Thursday, Aug. 1 beginning at 6 p.m.

Officials want to make area citizens aware so they aren’t alarmed if they see an influx of emergency vehicles at that time.

The mock drill will center on a tornado hitting the local area with 35 victims who will have a variety of injuries from severe to minor and include some fatalities.

“A crisis never occurs when it is convenient, so it is wise that we prepare for the inevitable in a proactive manner," said Mary Lou Sales, RN, one of Mercy’s disaster preparedness team leaders. The team is working with both the city and the county including law enforcement, EMS, fire departments, ambulance, first responders as well as ADLM who will all play a part in the drill.

The goals are to provide training for emergency and hospital personnel as they confront and manage the large number of patients. The team wants to make sure that EMS is capable of categorizing patients according to injury from most critical to the least critical at the scene and insure that patients with urgent needs are taken care of first.

From the scene the hospital will be notified and will enact their disaster planning which will include calling in additional staff, identifying other resources needed and mobilizing those resources. Depending on the severity, it may require activation of the hospital’s incident command system with all hospital departments involved.

According to Brenda Howington, another one of the hospital’s disaster team leaders, the number of victims will determine how Mercy Medical Center will care for them which may include assistance from surrounding medical facilities.

Howington said there will be experienced observers who will monitor performance both on the scene and at the hospital.

“We will be able to identify where our weaknesses are and strengthen those areas before something does happen, “she added.

The team has been meeting to plan the drill since June. The planning included writing the scenarios, determining the type of injuries and organizing the volunteers who will serve as patients. Make up will be applied on the volunteer victims to simulate real injuries.

“We are pleased to work with all of our local emergency agencies and appreciate their assistance with our drill,” said Sales.