East St. Louis Hospital Plans for Disaster

EAST ST. LOUIS -- In the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake in the metro-east, the staff at Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital plans to be ready.

Hospital officials conducted a mock drill Friday morning, handling victims of an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale. The drill included the scenario of severe damage to Touchette Regional Hospital, its Mother and Child Center and the Senior Citizen Center.

In the scenario, Kenneth Hall Hospital received patients from Touchette, including fatalities and people with broken bones and burns.

"Their ages made their situations somewhat more complex," said Kenneth Williams, hospital director of security. "Once they arrive at our hospital, they are handed off to the people we have in place, such as the incident commander, to determine where they should be taken."

Spokesman Aaron Dobson said everyone in the hospital has a role to play, from transporting patients to taking family members to the areas where they can receive information about loved ones.

"Our accountant could be directing traffic or handling media if an actual natural disaster were to occur," Dobson said. "We want everyone to be ready to do their part and that's what this drill is all about."

Role players wore bright orange cards identifying the job they were carrying out. Hospital personnel had information cards with names and conditions of the patients, using them to determine what treatment would be administered.

Registered nurse Simone Jordan, director of the Kenneth Hall Medical Group, had a number of colorful tags in her hand as she talked with other personnel.

"These are tags," she said. "As part of the emergency room team, we assess and code. We determine which patients were ambulatory, dead on arrival, and victims of minor injuries."

Jordan said the drill helps to improve skills.

"Organization is key," she said. "We all need to know the areas where we need to be and have the right staff. This drill enables us to be prepared on all levels," she said.

Another scenario of the drill was that the earthquake damaged "Ajax" chemical company, dousing employees with chemicals.

"We had to do decontamination in our emergency room drive," Williams said.

The mock drill is done annually.

"... It's extremely important that we test our staff's readiness in the event of a disaster. We have to be prepared in case of a real natural disaster," Williams said.

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