When disaster strikes, you want those first on the scene to be ready. In an effort to make sure everyone is, the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management held a surprise statewide drill today. When the call went out folks at Avera McKennan jumped into action.
At 9:00 am September 30th, 2009 the South Dakota Department of Public Safety Office of Emergency Management sent out an urgent page to all levels of government and hospitals statewide alerting them of an emergency: code orange level two.
Mitch Krebs is Assistant Vice President for Media and Community Relations for Avera McKennan. During emergency situations he becomes PIO (public information officer). He says, "We were told it's a high profile court case at the Minnehaha County Court House, a car bomb blew up in front of the building killing several people and injuring 500. We were told many of those patients were coming to the Emergency Department at Avera McKennan."
Instead of moving actual people around the hospital they use paint stir sticks with information typed up on it.
Emergency Department Nurse Manager Brian Erickson, RN says, "It describes their gender, age, their chief complaint and their level of consciousness."
For those in the Emergency Department the first order of business is always triage.
Erickson says, "Triage is a rapid process of a quick assessment of the patient. We find out what level of care they need and how quickly they need it."
An area off the 2nd floor waiting room is the hospital's designated Command Center with key players reacting and planning as the drill plays out which is pre-planned by state officials. Sister Mary Thompson is the incident commander for this drill. She acts as the teams quarterback.
Krebs says, "Everyone has predetermined roles. There should be no surprises in situations like this. Everyone knows what their job is, what action they should take. We all have specific duties so we make sure all the patients that come here to McKennan are taken care of the best they can in a safe and secure environment."
If you saw more security outside the hospital and in the doorways now you know why. Avera McKennan also hopes you know because of drills like this they have practiced and are prepared for the real deal.
The state holds drills like this periodically, typically once a year and they have people stationed all over the state observing what went right and what went wrong.