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Valuable Information Learned From Multi-County Disaster Drill

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Ravenna – On April 19, Robinson Memorial Hospital, in conjunction with the Northeast Central Ohio Regional Disaster Planning Consortium (NECO) and a number of emergency management agencies, held a mock disaster exercise to test the hospital’s abilities to respond to a devastating tornado which swept through the region resulting in numerous simulated casualties and fatalities.

All 50 participating agencies among 13 counties were given the same tornado scenario in order to assess their collaborative efforts in planning and responding, communicating with each other and sharing supplies, equipment or staff when possible. “Hospitals demonstrated their familiarity with community and statewide partners and reached out to each other to share resources and information, or to find beds for evacuated patients,” said Sarah Short, one of the project’s managers from the Akron Regional Hospital Association. “The use of the Statewide OHTrac Patient Tracking System improved dramatically since its last test, due to training and new help guides. The hospitals entered over 1,000 ‘patients’ into the system and used it successfully for family reunification and situational awareness.”

Functional exercises and mock disaster drills such as this one serve the purpose of testing each hospital or agency’s internal disaster and crisis communication plans. “These exercises serve as a valuable learning tool because they emphasize not only what we are doing well, but also areas where improvements can be made,” said Short. “An outcome report will be distributed to all participating hospitals and agencies which will highlight areas to focus on improving upon for next year.”