Hospital holds emergency drills

Published 2:49 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Memorial Hospital and local emergency responders dealt with a mock scenario Tuesday morning, in which several people portrayed victims of a mass shooting.

The scenario wasn’t real — its purpose was to allow hospital staff and emergency personnel to practice what they would do in a real emergency. But the lights and sirens of law enforcement vehicles and ambulances were seen and heard as they responded to the Yuki Express restaurant shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday.

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In the restaurant’s parking lot, several people pretending to be victims — complete with lifelike makeup to show the extent of their injuries — laid on the pavement. Emergency Medical Service personnel assessed the status of each patient and then transported the most seriously injured to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital.

After a disaster alert had been issued at the hospital, a number of doctors, nurses and staff were called in to treat the pretend patients, said Jan Godwin, director of public relations at Memorial Manor.

For the purposes of the drill, one patient was declared dead upon arrival, three were in critical condition and five were in urgent condition. Hospital staff prepared one patient to be transported to another hospital by emergency helicopter, if it had been a real emergency.

Hospital staff also held another drill at Memorial Manor on Tuesday morning. In that scenario, residents of the manor were evacuated to the hospital itself, under the pretense that a mock explosion nearby on Shotwell Street had blown out the manor’s windows.

The drills were organized by Kenny Stavely, who is in charge of maintenance and security at Memorial Hospital, which is required to do emergency drills twice a year. Also participating were Bainbridge Public Safety, the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office and the Decatur County Emergency Medical Service.

“Law enforcement and other agencies were a tremendous help in allowing us to do these drills,” Stavely said Tuesday. “With these drills, we can determine what we do well and also what we need to improve on.”

Stavely said one lesson from Tuesday’s drill was learned when personnel at the manor were unsure how to lock the doors for the simulated “lockdown.”

“We had to send a maintenance person from the hospital over to show them how to lock the doors,” he said. “That’s one less person at the hospital, and extra time wasted, that could have been costly in a real situation. These are the things we learn by doing these drills, so that we’re prepared for the worst.”

After the drills were completed, hospital staff and emergency responders review what happened and discuss how they could do things differently in the future, Godwin said.

For example, Memorial Hospital has an agreement with Decatur County Schools to use a school bus to evacuate residents of Memorial Manor, Godwin said.

“But what would happen if schools were involved in an emergency at the same time we were, and we couldn’t use a bus?” Godwin said. “You always have to have a contingency plan and think of all the possiblities that could happen in a crisis. You can’t always imagine everything, but that’s what’s good about drills like these, they get you to thinking about what you would do.”

Managing Editor Justin Schuver contributed to this story.