Preparing for the worst

Hospital holds emergency preparedness drill

By Joshua Torres
Posted 11/14/18

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Preparing for the worst

Hospital holds emergency preparedness drill


ORANGE PARK – Paramedics rushed the woman into the trauma center bearing obvious signs of burns and her leg has been fractured as a bone is clearly visible.

There had been a terrorist attack. A bomb exploded at an area Walmart and injured over 30 people, whereas the unidentified woman was lucky to be alive. But there was someone else that she was worried about – her unborn child.

The woman, 7 months pregnant had fallen during the explosion and now the doctors rushed to make sure her child was still alright.

However, the bombing never occurred, but instead, the plausible scenario was brought to life Nov. 7 as a training exercise for trauma professionals and others at Orange Park Medical Center.

Once a year the hospital, as well as other area hospitals, run a community wide drill to prepare for the wosrt. During these drills they simulate as some kind of disaster, in this case a terrorist attack had happened in the community.

“We are a call away from any disaster,” said Richard Ward, director of security for Orange Park Medical Center.

During the drill, volunteers from local colleges and high schools were dressed up in movie-grade makeup to simulate injuries that doctors and nurses might see during a real-life event.

Ward said medical and public safety officials never know when a disaster like this could happen, but training exercises like these keep everyone aware and prepared.

In August, Jacksonville was rocked when a gunman opened fire at a Madden 19 video game tournament that killed two people. OPMC was on standby to receive additional patients if needed.

“We are prepared for any event,” said Ward. “We have to prepare for all hazards.”

Ward said that preparations for this month’s exercise began six months ago with a safety subcommittee, which meet once a month to prepare for this drill.

They simulated everything that would happen in a mass trauma event including putting the victims through a chemical shower to ensure they were not covered in hazardous chemicals before they received treatment.

Doctors and nurses then received the mock patients and began examining their injuries to determine the proper treatment each would need. The exercise planning staff threw in curveballs, such as a pregnant woman, to test the doctor’s abilities on how to handle multiple medical needs.

Ward believes that providing the community with information about these drills is important so that they can see that when disaster does strike they are prepared.

“We take time to let people see what we are doing,” said Ward.

Ward said that next year they will expand the drill to include a transportation accident at Jacksonville International Airport. So, it is likely that next year, residents and travelers near the airport will see paramedics there taking “victims” to the hospital.

As is the case with other emergency drills, onlookers may gasp and become captivated by the trauma, but should also know it is just part of a drill to keep rescue and medical teams prepared and ready for service.


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