Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, November 9, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, November 2, 2017
Emergency response tests preparedness at local facilities
Members of the Deer Isle Fire Department and Memorial Ambulance Corps work to make patient transport as easy as possible.
by Monique Labbe
The staff at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital was put into emergency response mode during a training exercise on October 25.
The drill was in coordination with the Island Nursing Home, whose staff also underwent the necessary training for a mass emergency at the residence home.
The drill feigned a kitchen emergency gone awry at the nursing home, with several patients with varying degrees of “injury” transported to the hospital for “care.” For BHMH, the issue was that the building was over capacity, forcing staff to figure out how to treat in their own building while also determining how and when to call on Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth for assistance.
Blue Hill Memorial Hospital and Maine Coast Memorial Hospital President John Ronan said emergency response drills like this are an essential piece of growth at any hospital.
“We always think that we’re prepared, but the time to figure that out is not during an actual disaster. It’s important to do these so that we can take a look back after and see where more focus is needed and what we can do better,” he said.
To keep a certain level of surprise, only a handful of staff at both the hospital and nursing home were told about the training ahead of time. This added a level of realism, as the bulk of the staff had to respond in real time.
Dr. Michael Murnik said that emergency drills are important for the medical team at a hospital because it allows for hands-on training to build muscle memory, which is crucial during a disaster.
“We do table top exercises and go through things on a regular basis, but it is also important to practice it in real time and do bigger exercises like this,” he said.
The Deer Isle Fire Department, Memorial Ambulance Corps., Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School and Hancock County Emergency Management Agency all participated in the drill.