Central Texas hospital prepares for tornado season with disaster simulation

Posted at 8:38 PM, Sep 29, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:27-04

Baylor Scott & White knows that tornadoes could happen in Central Texas.

So this Thursday, they held a disaster simulation to prepare in the event that a tornado ever hit one of their buildings.

The drill simulated a strike to the South Tower of the hospital, which includes the emergency department and the labor and delivery area. During the scenario, 75 people from local nursing programs, Texas A&M Allied Health programs and other members of the community pretended to be patients.

Dr. Taylor Ratliff is the Emergency Physician at Baylor Scott & White and the Medical Director for Bell County EMS.

"He told us 'We have critically ill ICU patients that are simulated up in the ICU on ventilators. We have normal patients that would be sitting in our waiting room in our ER. We have walk-in wounded that have shrapnel injuries, glass, cuts and abrasions.'"

The simulation is meant to practice evacuating and transporting patients to another facility while still caring for their needs.

Several Bell County Emergency agencies, including Belton, Harker Heights, Killeen and Temple also participated in the drill, helping to transport patients in some of their ambulances.

The Emergency Medical Task Force from Region 7 took an ambulance bus, which has the capacity of transporting up to 20 patients.

"If your hospital infrastructure is damaged, we have decrease capability to take care of those people. That's why we train for this. Our responders know how to deal with these situations...That's why our emergency plan is so important,” Ratliff said.

Temple Fire Chief Mitch Candles experienced a real tornado while he was fire chief in Joplin, Missouri in 2011.

“It devastated everything that was in it's path including a major medical facility much like Scott & White here,” Candles said.

He said event is reminiscent of what occurred there.

"It definitely brings back some memories of the events of that event. I think probably the one thing I'm not seeing here that I saw a lot of in Joplin is we transported a lot of patients in the back of pickup trucks,” Candles said.

University of Mary Hardin Baylor nursing student Kristen Cherry said this experience may help her in her own career.

"It was very informative because I was able to see how chaotic even something like this could be and eye opening because since I am a nursing student, there could be possibilities that I could be involved in a chaotic accident like this,” Cherry said.

This drill is performed every other year at Baylor Scott & White in Temple but staff develops emergency plans all the time.

Ratliff recommends community members prepare for these types of situations as well by keeping first aid kits at home and developing an emergency plan.

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