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Published on October 27, 2015

Have you ever wondered, how prepared are we?

Have you ever wondered, how prepared are we?

KishHealth System participated in a region-wide disaster preparedness drill on July 10, 2015. Multiple organizations participated in the drill that was staged on the campus of Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. Medical personnel, first responders, community members, fire departments, and emergency medical staff participated in the drill that spanned three hours. The scenario that was unknown to drill participants began around 8 am with the first call that two bombs had detonated on NIU’s campus and victims would need to be transported with various levels of injury.

KishHealth System began its response action plan. Incident command offices were set up in Kishwaukee Hospital, DeKalb, and Valley West Hospital, Sandwich. The severity of the situation was quickly communicated and each department was charged with determining the capacity of its unit. Quick action was taken by each leader to know and assess patient needs and the proper care and environment each patient required. With this knowledge in hand, KishHealth System Incident Commander Pamela Duffy, MSN, MBA, was able to communicate to medical transportation the number of patients that were able to be transported to Kishwaukee Hospital and Valley West Hospital. Severity of patient conditions were assessed during transport and communicated to both hospitals prior to arrival; this practice enabled medical staff to be ready for surgical needs and severe conditions before they arrived.

The preparedness drill came as necessary practice and for some a refresher course on how prepared we are for a disaster. Some staff at Kishwaukee Hospital can recall the events of Feb. 14, 2008, where a gunman took the lives of six people on the campus of NIU. “You can never practice enough for a situation like that,” said Sharon Hebert, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator. “Drills are essential for each category of personnel to know what to do and how to communicate with each other. If you had never practiced, your facility would be faced with reacting to a situation rather than being proactive and having a knowledge base about what to do and what happens next.”

The events of July 10 were assessed and KishHealth System received positive feedback. “We are extremely prepared for a disaster situation,” stated Joe Herrmann, EMS system manager. “It is known that we cannot prepare for everything but we participate in these drills to understand the process of a disaster situation and to be prepared if anything happens in our community. Our communities and region should have ease in their minds that we can handle difficult situations when they are thrown our direction. The staff at KishHealth System takes disaster drills very seriously and acts as though it is a real-life situation when they participate.”

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