Friday, December 18, 2009

Northwest Hospital Leaders Complete Hospital Evacuation Drill

by Holly Hosler

The best way to handle an emergency is to be prepared, which is why some leaders at Northwest Hospital spent Monday morning taking the DQE® Hospital Evacuation Course. Training on how to be prepared for a hospital evacuation is still a relatively new concept, and Northwest was one of the first hospitals in the area to offer this course to members of its Emergency Management team.

Though evacuations are rare, a number of situations – including fire, flooding or hazardous material event – could lead to the need to evacuate patients and visitors from part or all of the hospital.

When coordinating an evacuation, the safety of patients, visitors and hospital staff is paramount. Life safety and restoring stability to the situation are higher priorities than preserving property, though that is also important. In preparation for their exit, patients would be grouped by those who can walk, those who need wheelchairs and those who must be transported by bed, and a different evacuation plan would be created for each group. Patients able to be discharged immediately would be sent home, and transportation and care at other facilities would be arranged for the remainder of the evacuees.

After learning how to best evacuate a hospital, the class participated in a drill of a mock scenario and developed a specific plan to ensure a safe, swift and seamless evacuation.

The evacuation course compliments the other Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) training that Northwest Hospital managers, directors and vice presidents have already received. HICS is part of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) that was created by the federal government in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. NIMS gives first responders, EMS, police, fire and hospitals a common vocabulary for use in emergencies and disasters. This common lingo greatly improves coordination among the various agencies and organizations, leading to a more successful resolution of the situation.

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