Drills prepare Phoebe physicians

Phoebe physicians get prepared for mass causality situations. / From file

Hospital employees, volunteers, as well as local and regional emergency responders throughout Southwest Georgia will take part in a mock disaster full scale exercise on Thursday, August 9. The full-scale exercise is being conducted in collaboration with local, regional and state agencies with the purpose of testing the preparedness and response of involved agencies and hospitals. Approximately seven hospitals, six EMS services, and several local and state agencies are participating within the counties of Ben Hill, Dougherty, Lee, Randolph, Sumter, Tift and Worth.

Phoebe's Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Denise Pardue advised, "The full scale exercise is designed to establish a learning environment for players to exercise emergency response plans, policies and procedures, as they pertain to a severe weather event. These events are often far too familiar to many residents within Southwest Georgia."

The scenario for the full scale exercise is the formation of multiple tornadoes in several counties in which tornadoes make direct hits, producing mass casualties that trigger a surge of demands on emergency resources and hospitals within the region. A large number of tornado victims will arrive at hospitals emergency rooms, stretching capacity of each of the hospital's resources. Although this is a DRILL, it is a test of the ability of those involved to respond to an actual disaster and assess gaps so improvements can be made.

"We want to keep an element of surprise because this is a full scale exercise, so the time will not be announced," said Pardue. "Neither normal hospital operations NOR patient care will be affected by the drill."

Hospitals are required by the Joint Commission, (a hospital accreditation organization) to have disaster response plans in place and conduct periodic drills for training and improvement purposes.