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SMH Disaster Drill - August 21, 2008

M. Patricia Cook, RN, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services at Stephens Memorial Hospital announced on Thursday that an internal disaster drill was successfully completed at the hospital. 

The scenario began with an explosion in one of the sterilizers in the Central Sterile Department of Surgical Services.  The issues at hand for the drill were injured staff needing immediate medical help, dust, debris and chemicals on the floor creating dangerous environment for patients and staff, and lack of power as a fuse box was destroyed.  Since the power outage was internal, there was no backup generator power, there was also a disruption in the oxygen lines, due to the explosion.  The two key steps of the drill were first moving patients and staff to a safe place within the facility and then evacuating patients from the facility when it was realized that the damage could not be repaired and electrical problems were becoming widespread.

The hospital's incident command post directed that other hospitals be contacted to coordinate possible transfers of patients, EMS was held on call to transfer patients and to assist in discharging patients to home as appropriate. 
Officials from the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and representatives from the Oxford County ARES HAM radio team as well as the Oxford County Medical Response Corps were in the hospital as evaluators. 

The planning process included increasing staff for that portion of the day so that the needs of the actual patients in the hospital would not be impacted.  Beds were moved, however a piece of paper with a description of a patient was used to simulate the patient for drill purposes.  Each hospital location impacted was given a paper with an overview of what problems they incurred as a result of the 'explosion', and staff acted upon those issues.

Patients and visitors at the hospital during the drill were very receptive.  Many stated that it was nice to know that the hospital was going through the motions to be prepared during emergencies.

The evaluation of the drill by department managers and staff from the EMA office was held the same day.  Participants and EMA staff felt that the situation was handled efficiently and effectively.  Their recommendations for improvement were discussed and will be addressed by Mike Hatch, Safety and Security Officer for Stephens Memorial Hospital. 
Of the drill, Hatch stated, "A great deal of planning and training is done in emergency preparedness at SMH.  Drills such as these exercise staffs ability to respond to unplanned disasters.  During this drill all staff did an excellent job of handling the difficult scenario."

Photo Caption:  Mike Hatch, Safety & Security Officer for SMH awaits news during the drill.

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