Regional disaster drill held in Monett

Thursday, November 13, 2008

St. John's Hospital-Cassville and Aurora, Cox Monett Hospital and Neosho Freeman Hospital held a regional pandemic disaster drill in Monett on Oct. 7.

"The Chaos Control Team, which is a team of individuals from Cox Monett, Freeman and St. John's hospitals, held monthly meetings for around six months in preparation for this event," said Karen Wilson, St. John's Hospital-Aurora emergency room manager.

In addition to planning the disaster drill, the monthly meetings were held to develop emergency response plans and obtain memorandums of understanding from local facilities interested in serving as alternative medical sites in the event of an emergency.

"Last week, we set up an alternate care site," said Wilson. "Each hospital was directed to set up its instant command center in the expectation of an influx of 50 patients. That is what the alternate care site is designed for. It has all bedding, supplies and equipment to serve patients during a disaster."

Around 15 to 20 employees who traveled from each of the participating hospitals assisted in transporting the Chaos Control Team's equipment and supplies medical cache to the First United Methodist Church in Monett, which was used as the alternate care site.

The site was staged to accommodate 50 patients from the regional hospitals. After establishing the alternate care site, the employees who participated in the event tore down the equipment and returned it to Cox Monett Hospital, where it is stored due to its centralized location.

"Our medical cache is kept in a semi-trailer, and the supplies can be transported to any facility," said Wilson. "We were able to set up the alternate care site within one hour and 15 minutes from time of transportation."

The medical cache equipment and supplies were recently received through a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Preparedness Program grant.

Over the next few weeks, the Chaos Control team will complete a hot wash evaluation. That information will be used to plan next year's disaster drill event. The team hopes to host at least one regional drill each year.

"Everybody worked together and was very collaborative," said Wilson. "Nobody needed to be the leader. We just all worked together as a great team. It really showed good teamwork."

David Thomas, of St. Louis University, attended the disaster drill event to observe procedures and evaluate the Chaos Control Team's activities.

"He had glowing things to say about the exercise," said Wilson. "With our interaction, players and speed, the drill really came together."

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