Pella Chronicle

Opinion

June 3, 2011

It could happen here

Pella — This week we’ve seen the dramatic pictures of the devastation in Joplin, Mo.

It hit us especially hard in the health care field. We know the types of everyday emergencies, routine surgeries and clinical activities that happen in a hospital. Hospital procedures are frequently stressful events. Imagine the stress added in when a tornado hits a hospital. A patient might go from wondering how his colonoscopy is proceeding to wondering if he’s going to live through the day.

We who work in health care know that we must always prepare for the worst. That’s why disaster planning is part of our yearly procedures.

It was only coincidence that Pella Regional Health Center had scheduled a “Code Yellow” – disaster drill – for Tuesday. But in light of what happened in Joplin, it seemed appropriate that we are testing our systems. We take it seriously because we know the activities tested in a drill will help prepare us for a worst case disaster.

Our disaster was appropriate for Pella: we imagined a tour bus full of senior citizens at Tulip Time faced a food poisoning disaster. Fortunately this did NOT happen. But what would we do in the case of a disaster?

During our drill, every area of the hospital was involved. We utilize a software program that helps people follow logical steps to aid in the emergency. If there’s a power outage, everyone has a hard copy notebook with the procedures. And we practice, so if the notebooks are blown away, we’ll still have an idea of how to respond.

Every hospital practices their disaster plan. It’s mandated by our accreditation agencies. It’s simply the right thing to do. I’m sure Joplin has practiced their drills at least twice a year. None of us ever want to implement a disaster plan, but it’s good to know that they exist. It’s good for the public to know that we’re training to be ready. Hopefully we’ll never need to use our disaster plan.

But you never know. It could happen here.

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