Good Samaritan joins community mass casualty drill
Hospital practiced decontamination, communication during 5-hour exercise
Good Samaritan Medical Center joined community volunteers, healthcare professionals, and emergency medical services Tuesday for a five-hour, communitywide disaster drill.
The exercise involving a mass casualty incident with hazardous materials spill tested the processes and capabilities of multiple caregivers and departments of the hospital including its incident management team. The hypothetical scenario also involved AdventHealth Avista Hospital, Boulder County HazMat Authority, Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield County Public Health, Mountain View Fire Rescue, Lafayette Fire Department, Louisville Fire Department, Louisville Police Department, City of Lafayette Public Works Department, and the Northcentral Region Healthcare Coalition.
The scenario involved a collision between tanker cars on a train and a public transit bus in Louisville. Multiple trauma patients were taken to both hospitals for decontamination before being assessed for their injuries. Throughout the drill, different unexpected events were introduced to further test the hospital staff.
Two members of Lafayette Fire and Good Samaritan Medical Center emergency nurse RJ Maguire move volunteer patient Will Watts in preparation for decontamination during an emergency exercise Tuesday.
Questions the teams had to answer included:
- Do our community emergency departments have enough staff and space to care for an influx of patients who were exposed to hazardous materials?
- Do the medical teams know how to use personal protective equipment for hazardous materials and to decontaminate a severely injured patient, some of whom are disabled?
- Do the hospitals and community partners have the correct communication lines to reach internal and external audiences with accurate, timely and consistent information?
- Do the hospitals have proper equipment for this type of emergency? If not, where can caregivers get more equipment?
- What should be done with water after multiple patients are decontaminated?
Good Samaritan Medical Center emergency management coordinator Michael Ciavatta said the hospital conducts drills and exercises to make sure they are ready to handle any variety of incident that may occur. “Being able to conduct exercises like this helps us to identify what is working well in our processes and to help identify any gaps that we can improve on,” he said.
Several community members volunteered to play patients which meant they were brought to the hospitals via ambulance or walked into the emergency department seeking care.
Lisa Halperin, a pediatric nurse and member of the Boulder County Medical Reserve Corps, was one of those patients who had to be decontaminated while on a stretcher. She said she wanted to participate because the Medical Reserve Corps also conducts emergency drills. She wanted to see what it was like to participate as a patient.
Will Watts, a firefighter from Golden, volunteered to help his friend, Jared Stricker, who is also an emergency management coordinator with Intermountain Health. Watts has served as a hazardous materials technician and said it was good to see “the other side of things” as a patient.
Good Samaritan Medical Center conducts numerous drills and exercises annually to help prepare for, respond to, recover from and help to mitigate any type of incident that the hospital may face.