Community volunteers, hospital employees and local emergency responders participated in a mock disaster preparedness drill recently at Morgan Memorial Hospital to help ensure that the local medical community and other partnering agencies are ready when the unforeseen strikes. The conducted exercise simulated a tornado touching down in Madison causing a mass casualty event and minor damage to the hospital.
“MMH is to be commended for the realism displayed during this exercise,” stated Curt Harris, Ph.D., in a report summarizing the drill. “Staff performed well under pressure and were consistently able to adapt, overcome, and improvise solutions to challenging situations while remaining within the scope of the emergency operations procedures.” Harris is the Associate Director of the Institute of Disaster Management at the University of Georgia and served as the Lead Evaluator for MMH during the drill.
Local community volunteers served as patients and were made to appear consistent with their reported injuries, ranging from minor cuts and broken bones to actual crush victims sustaining life threatening injuries. Phone calls were placed to partnering agencies to arrange for patient transfer or delivery of necessary supplies, the local fire department conducted a walk through and safety check of the area of the hospital reported to have been damaged, and Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) volunteers were on site passing traffic with operators at regional healthcare facilities.
“Everything about this drill was as real as we could possibly make it,” said Ralph Castillo, MMH CEO. “We can’t know when disaster may strike, but by repeatedly testing our skills and processes while looking for ways to improve we can ensure that our staff members are as prepared as they can be when the time comes.”
Disaster response plans and periodic drills are a requirement for MMH to maintain accreditation through The Joint Commission. In light of recent nationwide tragedies and weather related disasters the drill couldn’t have happened at a more appropriate time.
“We are grateful to each of our partners who helped make this drill successful,” said Keith Mosley, RN and MMH Emergency Management Director. “Their support is crucial to ensure that we are able to effectively care for our patients and community should an emergency arise.”
Partners for this most recent drill included Morgan County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Morgan County Coroner’s Office, Morgan County E911, Morgan County EMA, Morgan County Fire Department, National EMS, Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, Athens Regional Medical Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Northeast Georgia Health System and St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital.