Health Team

Drills test disaster responses at Triangle hospitals

Posted June 4, 2008 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated June 4, 2008 10:22 p.m. EDT

— Several Triangle hospitals are participating in a series of disaster drills this week aimed at testing communication and response skills. One make-believe scenario Monday at WakeMed and Rex Hospital involved a tornado.

“There is a tornado that is on-site, and we have significant damage to the medical ICU (intensive care unit). So that's why we've had to get this patient ready for transport to get to a safe area,” WakeMed registered nurse Pamela Wood said.

During the drill, hospital response teams were connected by video teleconference with a brand new, $500,000 mobile command, control and communications (MC3) support vehicle.

It has “all the equipment that you would need from an information-service perspective,” WakeMed registered nurse Barb Bisset said of the MC3 truck.

If needed, the response may include mobile tent hospitals. However, during the drill, WakeMed patients were moved to available beds across town at Rex Hospital. Each transported patient also had special circumstances to accommodate.

“This gentleman has a history of a disease and this disease may have complications of a stress response,” said Amar Patel, with the WakeMed Simulation Lab.

Wireless, battery-powered simulators made the drill seem real.

It has been “very real, as far as the orders that you receive, assessing the patient, looking at the vital signs,”  Wood said.

Officials hope that ironing out mistakes made during the drill will better prepare emergency works for an actual disaster.

“And we're going to have all our departments evaluate what went well, (and) what opportunities that they could have for improvement,” Bisset said.

WakeMed, Rex, Betsy Johnson and Central Carolina hospitals are participating in drills this week.

WakeMed's MC3 vehicle is available to the facilities during the exercises and to hospitals throughout the state in times of crisis.