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Public Notices

April 17, 2014

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Laughlin, Takoma Join
Regional Disaster Drill

Sun photo by Ken Little

As part of Wednesday’s region-wide disaster drill, students from Greeneville Adventist Academy served as volunteer “victims” at Takoma Regional Hospital. Here, they are being checked for radiation contamination.

Originally published: 2013-11-07 11:08:44
Last modified: 2013-11-07 11:10:15
 


Additional Images

The Scenario: Vols

Football Game In

Knoxville Is Target

Of Terrorist Attack

BY KEN LITTLE

STAFF WRITER

Laughlin Memorial Hospital and Takoma Regional Hospital were among more than 50 healthcare centers in East Tennessee to participate Wednesday in a coordinated emergency preparedness drill.

The drill involved a hypothetical scenario involving a terrorist-generated explosion during a Saturday football game at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Doctors, nurses and other employees at both local hospitals processed and treated about 30 "patients" brought to local hospitals whose "injuries" varied from minor to severe.

The volunteer patients at Takoma were students from nearby Greeneville Adventist Academy.

The terrorist attack "victims" treated at Laughlin were nursing students from Walters State Community College and the Tennessee Technology Center at Morristown.

"The Mass Casualty Exercise will test the region's hospital and surge plans, local and regional mass-casualty incident plans, and communication capabilities," a news release said.

AN 'IMPRESSIVE JOB'

The exercise began about 9 a.m. Wednesday at both hospitals.

As it wrapped up shortly before lunchtime, initial reviews of the performance of hospital staff and volunteers were positive.

"I think they've done a very impressive job. They were very prepared," said Melissa Taylor, emergency response nursing consultant with the state Department of Health's Northeast Region office, who was at Laughlin to monitor the drill.

Another state representative was at Takoma to evaluate the staff's response to the disaster scenario.

Also watching the exercise at Takoma was Daniel Wolcott, president and CEO of the hospital.

"I think it's going well. It's always good to practice for real emergencies, so when something does happen, our team's ready," Wolcott said.

EMERGENCY TYPES

Each local hospital focused on a different type of emergency response.

The emphasis at Takoma was on patients being brought in with possible radiation contamination and other trauma-related injuries.

At Laughlin, the emphasis was on treating patients who suffered injuries ranging from lacerations to fractures and burns. In the scenario, or exercise script, not all the victims survive.

Noah Roark, human resources director at Laughlin, served as exercise controller at the hospital. He said care was taken to make the "injuries" suffered by the volunteers as realistic as possible.

"We make our patients up to be as close to the real thing as we can," Roark said.

A 'LEARNING EXPERIENCE'

One volunteer being treated in the Laughlin emergency room had realistic-appearing burns and lacerations on her face and arms, along with chest pain.

Debra Colyer, the volunteer "victim," is actually an adjunct instructor of nursing at Walters State.

She said the exercise was valuable not only for hospital employees, but also for the nursing students who were serving as volunteer victims.

"They've had a nice day doing this. It is a learning experience for them also," Colyer said as she was being attended to by registered nurse Martha Southerland and unit secretary Sherry Malone, who were also participating in the exercise.

One volunteer being treated in the Laughlin emergency room had realistic-appearing burns and lacerations on her face and arms, along with chest pain.

Debra Colyer, the volunteer "victim," is actually an adjunct instructor of nursing at Walters State.

She said the exercise was valuable not only for hospital employees, but also for the nursing students who were serving as volunteer victims.

NEW TRIAGE SYSTEM

At Takoma, student volunteers were brought into the hospital emergency room one-by one-after being checked outside for radiation with a Geiger counter.

A strip of yellow tape ran down the center of the hallway from the emergency room entrance to divide volunteers being treated for radiation exposure from other staff and onlookers.

"It's been busy, I think we had a total of 29 participants," said Lynn Parks, an emergency room nurse who serves as the hospital's emergency preparedness coordinator and RN emergency room coordinator.

Real emergency room patients also had to be treated as the drill was going on, Parks said.

Parks said the exercise went well at Takoma.

NEW TRIAGE SYSTEM

"We were testing some new things today. We changed to a new triage system," Parks said. "We are working on a new system to get them (processed) quicker."

The emergency response exercise for patients with possible radiation exposure and other traumatic injuries was new for staff at Takoma, Parks said.

"We've never drilled in it before," he said.

COMMAND CENTERS, DEBRIEFING

Both hospitals had incident command centers where events were monitored as the scenario unfolded.

"Everything is documented here," said Jesse Taylor, Laughlin director of medical imaging.

Melissa Taylor carefully noted the hospital's response as patients were brought in.

Immediately after the drill ended, a "hot wash" initial debriefing was conducted with staff participants, Roark said.

"We will (discuss) plans for improvement while it is still fresh in their minds," he said.

FOLLOW-UP MEETING

Information taken from the meeting Wednesday will be presented Nov. 8 at a followup meeting in Johnson City of representatives from all participating hospitals in Northeast Tennessee, Roark said.

"I will provide an evaluation report on the different aspects of the exercise and make recommendations if there were any areas of improvement to be implemented," Melissa Taylor said.

Information will be collected from each hospital in East Tennessee participating in the drill and "we will develop an improvement plan for all hospitals," she said.

 
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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