The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

December 13, 2013

Disaster 101: Area emergency responders take part in mock disaster drill



“We have to make sure we have the appropriate man power available,” Herbert said, “that we have the necessary resources and phone numbers to be able to contact officers if they’re off work, to make sure we've got all our equipment available and ready to go.”

Wells said that in the event a disaster damaged communication towers, responders would revert to cell phones.

Following the “start” of the disaster, law enforcement agencies conducted search and rescue operations throughout the damaged left wing — in 32 minutes, Wells said — which was quicker than estimated. Role-playing “injured” patients were then transferred to PRMC's East Campus by medical staff, with some being care-flighted, as real-life operations could require.

At the East Campus, responders faced dealing with a surge of patients at once, “aside from dealing with psych patients that had to be transported from the West Wing to a secured area at the East Campus,” Wells added.

Arrangements were made to transport 15 patients to Longview with a law enforcement escort.

Meanwhile, the city was knee-deep in communication procedures. In the event of an actual disaster, the mayor would sign a disaster declaration, command posts and emergency management operations would be established, and a communications plan for emergency personnel would go into effect.

Keith Vintilla, director of environmental services, security and emergency management, coordinated the mock disaster. He said the drill enables the community to better prepare for a real disaster.

“Because this was a community effort, it wasn't just a hospital-focused event, we had response from multiple agencies including fire, sheriff, police, EMS, Mother Frances Flight For Life, (and media),” he said.

“The purpose of today was to test our capability and response to a disaster as a community... and today allowed us to see some of the things we need to work on in order to strive to get better at that very thing.”

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