Disaster Readiness

By ABBIE WILLANS For The Courier-Times

A boy with a crushed chest cavity “died” on the table at Henry County Hospital Tuesday, with an actress playing his distraught mother screaming and clutching at him.

Four-year-old Kinley Burgess had surprisingly realistic “lacerations” and “burns” on her face as a nurse walked her into the hospital. “Mommy says my face hurts,” she said, trying not to smile when the nurse asked her what was wrong.

The hospital had a mock disaster Tuesday evening. Children in the Sheriff’s Youth Summer Camp pretended they had been injured in an elementary school bombing. They had fake wounds but the hospital staff treated everything as they would in a real-life situation.

While it may have seemed like a game of dress-up to Kinley, her mother said the event made her think about the possibility of a bombing, since her daughter will be starting school soon.

Nurse Lisa Lloyd organized the drill. She said there was a lot of interest, support, and participation from others. While it was difficult for her to get everyone together, many of the emergency workers came in on their day off. This is the first time the hospital has sponsored the event; EMS has in previous years.

Jason Loseaamp of New Castle EMS was responsible for transporting the “patients” from the scene to the hospital triage area, fitting the children with real medical equipment (such as neck braces), and even acting to make it seem more realistic.

This is what the nurses call triage, deciding whose injuries are most severe among a large group of patients, and who can wait.

Loseaamp said it seemed to run smoothly on his end.

“The training is wonderful, it prepares us for down the road when it does happen,” Loseaamp said. He added that treating children is very different from treating adults. Not only was the mock disaster a learning experience for the hospital staff, but it was helpful for the children to know what to expect should anything similar truly occur.

“We’d be sending critical patients in ambulances, people who could walk would be on buses,” he said.

Department head Chris Manning has never experienced that type of situation firsthand, but the reason for the demonstration was so that the hospital staff would be ready.

“We go by the ESI system, which has five levels; 1 being the most severe and 5 being the least. In that kind of scenario if a patient is not breathing or has no heartbeat, we would move on to the next patient, even though we’d normally try to bring them back,” she said.

Children of various ages came in with injuries ranging from pieces of glass stuck in their arms to amputated limbs.

Camp counselor Lisa Rossiter, 24, also played a bombing victim. She said the Sheriff’s Camp also teaches children about the dangers of things like fire and drugs, and this was very relevant for them as well as the hospital staff.

Afterward, Lloyd said that the mock disaster went very well. She said the most difficult part beyond setting everything up was when several patients came in at once.

“This was a great experience and we want to be prepared but we never want it to really happen,” she said.