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CINCINNATI - Emergency workers from across the region will come together next month to train for the unthinkable, but necessary: Preparing for an event like one that rocked the Boston Marathon Monday.
A mass casualty incident drill is scheduled May 15 at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. It will be the first drill testing a new mass casualty incident plan recently implemented by the Hamilton County Fire Chiefs Association.

The drill will come exactly a month after the Boston bombings, which left three people dead and spotlighted the preparedness of emergency workers, nurses, trauma doctors and surgeons who treated scores of wounded people.

Such drills are crucial to make sure the community is ready to respond when disaster strikes -- whether that disaster is a school bus crash, a tornado or a terrorist attack, said Glendale Fire Chief Kevin Hardwick, who is overseeing the drill.

"Yesterday, there were over 170 people injured," Hardwick said. "Two or three major traumas can overwhelm the average hospital on any day."

Communication Is Key

Locally, officials say, a strong infrastructure is in place to handle mass casualties when disaster strikes in the Cincinnati region.
Communication between first responders at the site of a disaster and medical providers at local hospitals is crucial, experts say.
When emergency personnel encounter a mass casualty incident – such as the multiple-vehicle pileups Jan. 15 on I-75 and I-275 that injured dozens and killed a sixth-grader -- the Disaster Net system goes into effect, and emergency dispatchers put all local hospitals on notice to expect an influx of patients, said Tonda Francis, vice president of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council and the regional hospital disaster coordinator for Southwest Ohio.

The Jan. 15 pileups were the last time the system was implemented for an actual incident, but it's tested monthly, she said.
When disaster strikes, emergency personnel at the scene will determine which patients are most seriously injured, and through the Disaster Net system, first responders work with University Hospital’s Air Care and Mobile Care to make sure no single hospital is overwhelmed with patients. The most seriously injured are transported to the region’s two Level 1 trauma centers at University and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center while less seriously injured head to the region’s other hospitals. Each hospital notifies Air Care as to how many patients it can handle.
Each Hospital Has Protocol

The Joint Commission, a national organization that accredits hospitals, requires hospitals to hold a mass casualty incident drill at least once a year for accreditation of their emergency departments.
Every hospital in the region has protocols in place to handle mass casualty incidents, said Dr. Nathan Timm, an emergency medicine specialist at Children’s and the hospital’s emergency preparedness manager.

As patients arrive at the emergency room, doctors and nurses assess their injuries. If the disaster is big enough, the assessment may take place outside as the ambulances pull up to the hospital, Timm said, so that ambulances can drop off their patients, then get back to the scene.
The most serious cases – those requiring immediate surgery, CPR or other lifesaving measures – head straight into the emergency department and Intensive Care Unit, said Gordon Gillespie, a veteran emergency room nurse who’s now an associate professor of nursing and researcher at the University of Cincinnati.

Less seriously injured – “the walking wounded” – may be moved to other areas of the hospital for treatment, he said, to keep the emergency department as clear as possible as casualties continue to roll in. As the day goes on, hospitals may call in additional personnel or reassign personnel from other departments to the emergency and trauma departments.

In Boston, doctors and nurses found themselves treating injuries caused by flying shrapnel and debris, amputations, broken bones and injuries related to the bombs’ concussive force.
“With children, you’ll see a lot of injuries relating to them being picked up and thrown by the force of the bomb blast,” Timm said.

Treating Mental Health Issues

Over the next few days, Boston hospitals and providers will also likely see people coming in with mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, Timm said.
"The mental health piece is one piece that really has to be addressed," he said.

Depending on the incident, public health departments may also get involved. In the event of a bioterrorism incident, public health workers might help distribute medications such as antibiotics.
In the aftermath of a disaster, such as a flood or tornado, they might be called into make sure it's safe to move back into an area, said Dr. Lynne Saddler, district director of the Northern Kentucky Health Department.
In Boston, the fact that so many emergency personnel were already at the scene when the bombs exploded

I really miss the color-coded threatdown gradations.
(04-19-2013 02:08 PM)Megatherium Wrote: [ -> ]I really miss the color-coded threatdown gradations.

Whatever happened to those?
I dunno, Obama must have phased them out I guess.

But I was thinking maybe a big benzo producing pharma company like Sandoz or Roche could have used the same color scheme to market the appropriate strength tranquilizer for each threat level.

Lots of nervous, drugged up folks out there in war torn inland America.
Does anyone have OG:er Dead Again address?
yeah good question, where did the colour code threat levels go?

Be afraid, as much as you can all the time
Didn't they run one of these drills with the masses dressed up as Zombies?
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