Ravenna – On April 25, 2013, Robinson Memorial Hospital will participate in a disaster exercise conducted by the Northeast Central Ohio Regional Disaster Planning Consortium (NECO). Disaster exercises or mock drills are held annually to test the plans and response processes of participating hospitals and emergency management agencies. This year’s exercise will stage a disaster that impacts 13 surrounding counties with 50 agencies participating.
Each year the Northeast Central Ohio regional hospitals assess the most likely cause for a disaster that would have the highest potential for negative impact on healthcare delivery in our region. “We use the data gathered during the assessment to craft a disaster exercise that will test a probable and devastating event in our region,” said Sarah Short, NECO Region 5 hospital coordinator and project manager of the Akron Regional Hospital Association. “The goal of our exercise is to push the limits of our collective response as healthcare providers in a simulated environment, when no patients are at risk.”
The actual scenario or type of disaster that is the catalyst of the exercise is a closely guarded secret. “We want all participants to respond in real time as realistically as possible. If we told them what was coming we wouldn’t be able to accurately test the response and decisions made on the fly, under pressure,” said Short.
During the exercise each agency is expected to establish the Incident Command System (ICS) as they normally would in a large scale disaster. Additional goals and objectives that will be tested in this exercise include:
• Sharing initial and ongoing incident information which includes resource needs and communication from the hospitals to external authorities and agencies.
• Receiving a surge of simulated patients with a variety of severe injuries that would overwhelm and test the hospitals’ resources and staffing.
• Testing some hospital’s medical evacuation plans which includes sheltering and securing appropriate transportation for patients.