Disaster exercise tests regional healthcare system
SPOKANE, Wash., 22 March 2005. Disaster and emergency response experts from nearly two dozen regional agencies are ready to launch Ultimate Caduceus, a cooperative disaster exercise involving the U.S. Army, Air Force, Region 9 Homeland Security, Spokane Regional Health District, state and county emergency services, and virtually every hospital in eastern Washington.
SPOKANE, Wash., 22 March 2005. Disaster and emergency response experts from nearly two dozen regional agencies are ready to launch Ultimate Caduceus, a cooperative disaster exercise involving the U.S. Army, Air Force, Region 9 Homeland Security, Spokane Regional Health District, state and county emergency services, and virtually every hospital in eastern Washington. The event takes place on Wednesday, March 23, 2005.
The exercise is designed to test the ability of hospitals in eastern Washington to cope with a sudden influx of injured or wounded military people and their families. It revolves around the arrival of a C-17 aircraft from McChord Air Force Base loaded with simulated victims of a major disaster in south Asia. The aircraft will arrive at the Army National Guard Hanger, 8700 W. Electric Ave., at 8:40 A.M. on March 23rd and will be on ground until 9:10 A.M.
"While we test ourselves to deal with disasters frequently, it is rare that we are able to test our abilities on this scale," said Empire Health Services Hospital Safety Director Randy Benson. "The idea behind this drill is caring for military people and their families if hospitals on the west side of the state become overwhelmed with victims. It helps us perfect methods of working with other agencies and hospitals to meet the needs of all of our patients."
In this exercise, victims arrive in the Inland Northwest for care in medical facilities that have the capacity to treat their injuries. Dozens of Spokane area volunteers will then step in to act as the victims and will be dispatched in busses and ambulances to Deaconess Medical Center, Sacred Heart Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, and Valley Hospital and Medical Centers. Staff at each of these locations will test their ability to deal with the large influx of patients. As would be the case in a disaster of this type, each medical center did receive 24 hours notice that patients would be arriving the next day.
Rural hospitals throughout eastern Washington will be sent faxes indicating they should prepare to receive patients. No volunteers will be sent to those locations.
The next step for organizers is to analyze the outcome of the exercise and define ways to improve regional emergency planning, preparation and response.
INHS is a non-profit corporation sponsored by Deaconess Medical Center, Holy Family Hospital, Sacred Heart Medical Center, and Valley Hospital and Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., to provide collaborative health care services for Spokane and the surrounding region. INHS companies include St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Community Health Education and Resources (CHER), Children's Miracle Network, Northwest Telehealth, Information Resource Management and Northwest MedStar. For more information, see www.inhs.org.