Mercy Hospital Springfield is doing all it can to prepare for a large disaster, and today it held a drill to test co-workers on their response to a large number of patients with various injuries. The scenario involved an explosion at a local chemical plant while school children were touring the facility, which tested staff on receiving more than 100 patients of all ages. Because the “victims” were exposed to chemicals, the Springfield Fire Department brought its mobile decontamination unit to the hospital, just as it would in a real emergency. Mercy prepared to credential volunteer physicians and nurses, and mobilized chaplains to receive families who would come to the hospital.
As the scenario played out, there was a pretend smell of gas on the rehabilitation unit, and those patients were actually evacuated in just five minutes. Practicing a real evacuation is an accreditation requirement that was fulfilled during this drill.
After the drill, leaders came together to look at areas for improvement. As with most drills, increased communication was identified as the biggest need. "We are more prepared than yesterday, but not as prepared as we will be tomorrow," said Russ Conroy, emergency manager for Mercy Hospital Springfield. "Each time we do these exercises, we learn how to improve our response."
Mercy would like to thank the 72 volunteers who came to the hospital today to play the parts of patients and staff, including CoxHealth physicians who came to Mercy to be credentialed as visiting doctors. Thanks also to the Springfield Fire Department for its help with the decontamination portion of the drill, and to the Area Health Education Center at Missouri State University, which provided the “wound” makeup for today’s drill volunteers.