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The Suburbanite
  • Local hospitals simulate tornado emergency

  • Hospitals from 13 of Ohio’s 88 counties gathered in Stark County at the county emergency management agency Thursday for a mock tornado drill.

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  • Seventeen agencies gathered at the Stark County Emergency Management Agency on Thursday to direct 30 hospitals in 13 area counties in a mock tornado drill.
    The imaginary “tornado” blasted through 13 counties, calling into action 53 responding agencies ranging from firefighters and police to health departments and state emergency management personnel.
    As part of the disaster drill, part of at least one hospital is reportedly stricken by the tornado. Dozens of people are killed, the injured are rushed or wander in to the various hospitals as already admitted patients are evacuated, all involving about 1,600 patients with a variety of diagnoses.
    The hospitals  — including Aultman, Affinity, Mercy Medical and Alliance Community — participated as a way to test their “mass fatality plans” via pre-planned scenarios that came in by phone or hand-delivered messages at the hospitals.
    Emergency operations or command centers had been set up at each of 30 participating agencies, all connected to the county agency from which phone calls with scenarios aimed at helping the hospitals test their emergency system for communications, medical surges of patients, evacuations, hospital resources and tracking of the number of available hospital beds, said Dudley Smith, interim executive director at Columbus-based Paratus Solutions, a nonprofit healthcare and public health emergency medical preparedness organization that managed the program.
    “The goal of the exercise is to test how all of the hospitals in this region are going to come together to address such a disaster,” said Sarah Metzger, Akron Regional Hospital Association, which served as the regional hospital coordinator.
    A tornado is the top hazard that hospitals have determined would most negatively affect health-care in this region, she said.
    “Because it’s unannounced, you have very little time to prepare and it’s so destructive,” she said.