Afternoon drills preps responders

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Demopolis City Landing was crowded with emergency vehicles Tuesday evening, from police and fire to paramedics and rescue personnel, all with the same goal in mind – to practice what they would do in the event of a multi-victim accident.

“This came out of the Emergency Planning Committee,” Dereck Morrison, division director of clinical and community services at Tombigbee Healthcare Authority. “The hospital is required every year to put together a drill that’s a real live scenario that could really happen here.”

He said the Emergency Planning Committee, which consists of representatives of police, fire and rescue personnel, took the drill one step further to test not only the hospital’s reaction to an emergency, but the response of other public safety personnel and the ability of all agencies involved to work together.

“Because we have so much water here, we wanted to plan an accident on the river with multiple victims,” Morrison said. “We wanted to see how police would respond, fire, ambulance and other emergency personnel.”

The scenario used for Tuesday evening’s drill was that of a two-boat collision, resulting in approximately 20 victims.

“The drill tested our ability to find victims at the scene, do the rescue at the scene, and for EMS, to assess the overall situation and prioritize victims and determine who to transport first.

“For us here at the hospital, we look at how we reprioritize those patients, the number of victims and how we triage and care for those victims, do they need to be transferred to another facility and how do we do that,” Morrison said.

Communication is essential in a situation like that, and Morrison said that was one aspect the Emergency Planning Committee focused on.

“We look at what’s communicated from the scene to our emergency room, and between agencies,” he said. “We try to make it as realistic as possible.”

At the end of the scenario, the participants and committee members met to discuss briefly the drill and took home questionnaires to give a more detailed account of what worked and what didn’t.

“We’ll meet in a few days and discuss what we could do to improve and what to complement people for doing well,” Morrison said.