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Disaster drill tests regional response

by: Photo by Susan Matheny - Emergency room Dr. Bud Beamer, left, and respiratory therapist Scott Hayes, third from right, and team treat a 12-year-old boy (mannequin) with a spinal injury during the drill.


   Seven injured patients all arriving at Mountain View Hospital emergency room at the same time -- that was the scenario of a four-hospital mass casualty drill held June 2.
   Mountain View and Pioneer Memorial hospitals, and St. Charles Medical Centers in Redmond and Bend participated in the practice drill, along with 10 area ambulance services, fire and police departments, and Horizon Airlines.
   In the mock accident, a commercial airliner with 70 passengers crashed at 9 a.m. at Roberts Field Airport in Redmond. Central Oregon high school students, wearing makeup to simulate injures, acted as the victims to be triaged and treated at the crash site. Other volunteers played the role of crash victims' families arriving at hospitals.
   The "victims" were then transported by ambulance to the four hospitals.
   During triage, patients are assessed and labeled with a colored tag indicating the severity of their injuries. Red for those who cannot survive without immediate treatment, but have a chance of survival; yellow for those with a stable condition; green for the `walking wounded'; and black for the deceased or those whose injuries are so extensive they won't survive given the care that is available.
   Due to the distance, Mountain View Hospital received manikin patients instead of student actors. Seven plane crash victims arrived, including one with a collapsed lung and bone fracture, who "died" while on the way to surgery; one with a ruptured spleen, and one with bleeding on the brain, who were both sent on to Oregon Health Science University; an intoxicated patient with a broken leg and head laceration; a woman who was 36 weeks pregnant; a heart attack victim who was not in the plane crash, but arrived at the hospital; and a 12-year-old boy with a spinal injury.
   At periodic staff briefings at the hospital, incident commander Tammy Wilson checked in with personnel about blood supplies, communications, transports, patient conditions and other information.
   "All in all, the drill went pretty well," Wilson said, the day after the exercise.
   MVH communications coordinator Kelly Richard handled media calls, information for victims' families, and communication with the main public information officer at St. Charles in Redmond.
   "It really went better than we thought it would with the transfer center in Redmond and on a regional level," Richard said, noting she got updates every five minutes via laptop and cell phone messages.
   MVH will be holding an incident command training next week, and another drill exercise at the end of the summer, she added.