05.13.2011

Simulated Distaster Prepares Healthcare Agencies for the Real Thing

Monroe Clinic participates in multi-state emergency exercise

On May 18, healthcare workers and community leaders take action when Mississippi waters flood and damage Wisconsin infrastructure. And while the flood is fictional, the benefits Monroe Clinic reaps from the exercise are real.

“Unlike many community health issues, there is no clear way to control or prevent a natural disaster. What we can often control is our response should a disaster strike,” said Mary Austin, RN, BSN, EMS Coordinator.

The disaster exercise is part of a multi-state effort linked to a national drill. The scenario includes an earthquake and resulting flood, which forces affected hospitals to evacuate patients to other facilities. The simulation allows Monroe Clinic to test their emergency response plan, initiate an emergency operations center and assess their ability to receive evacuated patients and mobilize extra staff and equipment.

“A good plan is essential to emergency preparedness, but familiarity with activating the plan is just as crucial,” said Austin. “You wouldn’t want to race in a car you’ve never driven. Should a real disaster hit, we don’t want to be trying things for the first time.”

The simulation offers hospitals throughout the state an opportunity to communicate with the WITrac system, an electronic resource and bed reporting system from Wisconsin Hospital Emergency Preparedness.

In addition to this multi-state exercise, Monroe Clinic conducts regular emergency preparedness drills.