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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Harrisburg Medical Center conducts earthquake drill

  • Saline County was rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday — at least Harrisburg Medical Center staff and volunteers pretended it was.
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  • Saline County was rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday — at least Harrisburg Medical Center staff and volunteers pretended it was. Burned and lacerated victims streamed into the Harrisburg Medical Emergency Room where Dr. Robert Hodson evaluated their injuries and directed transporters to convey the patients to the appropriate treatment areas.
    Harrisburg Medical Center conducted a emergency drill on Monday afternoon, simulating the effects of an earthquake in our area. Safety Manager Stacy Morse explained that the company that accredits the hospital, The Joint Commission, requires them to perform emergency drills twice a year and one must be what is called a “No Community Support” drill. This means the hospital must function under the conditions of no ambulance service, medical ground transport, police or fire department assistance.
    Shortly after 1 p.m. the radios and intercom announced, “This is a drill, this is a drill, Code 33, Code 33.” Hospital staff rushed to their assigned emergency stations and a triage station was set up in the entrance of the emergency room. As earthquake victims — complete with makeup to give the impressions of injuries — entered they were evaluated or triaged and sent along for treatment.
    “You prepare for the worst case scenario so you are ready for what you get when the real thing happens,” said Hodson, director of emergency services for the hospital.
    Hodson's emergency station is triage doctor. He said the hospital has prepared a written emergency management plan which is given to all employees and they are expected to be fully familiar with the plan.
    Hospital CEO and President Rodney Smith was in the command center with his staff as he took charge of the hospital's response to the emergency.
    “We push the drill to failure to learn where our shortcomings are,” Smith said.
    “During the tornado, our command center was actually mobile, the team was moving around through the hospital to where we were needed and communicating through the radios. We learned a lot that day.”
    Monday’s drill simulated conditions where the hospital had suffered no structural damage though one of the annexes had been shaken off it's foundations. At about 2 p.m. the drill required the hospital to simulate a loss of heating capability and react accordingly.
    Monday’s drill saw 12 victims come through the triage with simulated injuries ranging from burns and lacerations to crushing injuries and blunt force trauma injuries. Several victims simulated having an eye popped out and were holding it in their hands. One female victim simulated being two days away from due date and was in contractions from the excitement of the earthquake. There were several simulated fatalities. The victims were made up of nursing students from Southeastern Illinois College and Girl Scouts who had volunteered to assist the hospital in the drill.
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