Modesto — “This is a drill. This is only a drill.”
That was a phrase repeated quite often last week, as Sutter Health hospitals in the Central Valley region dealt with bomb threats, mass casualty events, active shooters, floods and power outages during the latest statewide emergency preparedness exercises.
The 2017 Statewide Medical and Health Exercise, sponsored by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), was designed to help healthcare, public health agencies and their partners exercise their response to unusual trauma or health incidents that may challenge their facilities, personnel, and impact the communities they serve.
“We use these drills to keep all of our staff prepared for out-of-the-ordinary situations,” said Tammie Waddle, Valley Regional Safety/Emergency Management/Hazmat Manager at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. “We practice our use of the Hospital Incident Command System, and we encourage our teams to think outside the box to operate effectively under very trying times.”
Activities ranged from tabletop exercises to situational enactments, known as “full scale” disaster exercises, complete with real-time changes and updates to the disaster scenarios. Hospital Incident Management teams worked together to solve problems as the situations evolved.
During the drill at Sutter Medical Center Sacramento, for example, “patients” were moulaged — which is the art of applying artificial wounds for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical personnel — and arrived by ambulance to be treated for their mock injuries.
“Practicing our emergency management skills is a must for all of us in health care regardless of our daily roles. When disasters happen all of us are vital,” said Erik Angle, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for Sutter Roseville Medical Center.
Teams involved in drills at additional sites included Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, Memorial Hospital Los Banos, Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, Sutter Amador Hospital and Sutter Solano Medical Center.