Maria Parham Health Hosts Emergency Preparedness Drill

January 5, 2018

Maria Parham Health, in coordination with Vance County Emergency Operations, conducted an Emergency Preparedness Drill at the hospital on December 8, 2017. The Emergency Preparedness Drill was a joint training exercise that was designed to test the preparedness and response of local, regional and state agencies should a real crisis occur. This project was a vision that was started in a conversation with Maria Parham Health, Chief Executive Officer, Bert Beard, County Commissioners, Archie Taylor, Jr. and Tommy Hester, Jr. and City of Henderson Councilman, Mike Inscoe. “Several months prior to planning this drill, a conversation was had discussing concerns with the safety in our nation pertaining to mass casualty shootings,” stated Bert Beard, CEO, Maria Parham. “Mr. Taylor, Mr. Hester and Mr. Inscoe were instrumental in connecting the key leaders we needed to pull a drill of this scale off and we are very appreciative of their dedication and leadership.  Every entity involved, both locally and regionally, stepped up and engaged to make this a value-added exercise for the community,” stated Beard.

More than 100 volunteers, hospital employees and local emergency responders participated in the mock emergency preparedness drill. The event staged by Maria Parham Health Emergency Preparedness Team, inclusive of key leaders from Vance County Emergency Operations and first responder entities, focused on response plans for an actual disaster, which could trigger a sudden influx of patients, media, concerned community members and the “worried well” to the hospital. The full scale mass-casualty drill was conducted in collaboration with multiple partner agencies including the Henderson Police Department, Vance County Sherriff’s Office, Henderson-Vance County Emergency Operations, Vance County Emergency Medical Services, City of Henderson Fire Department, Duke Healthcare Coalition and Maria Parham Health. “It takes the entire community of emergency responders to pull a drill of this scale off, stated Jason Reavis, Assistant Director of Emergency Operations for Vance County. “We had a very dedicated team and everyone was focused on completing a safe and successful drill while making our community more prepared for an event of large scale,” stated Reavis.  

Maria Parham Health is the first hospital in the region to host an emergency preparedness drill of this scale. The scenario for the practice event was a simulated active shooter on hospital grounds. More detail to planning the event was required due to the nature of the event, the multiple entities involved, the necessary steps to respond to an event of this type and having the event taking place during some of the hospital’s busiest hours. “Safety is always our top concern when we are participating in any drill,” stated Steven Vaugh, Captain of the Henderson Police Department. “We did not want to disrupt any normal operations of the hospital, but we needed to respond as if it were a real situation. Everyone collaborated to make sure safety was the top focus and through the joint efforts of everyone involved we completed the drill with no injuries or harms,” stated Vaughn.

Hospitals are required by The Joint Commission to have disaster response plans in place and conduct periodic drills for improvement and training purposes. However, this drill was designed to test the process and responsiveness of all of Vance County’s emergency responders and examine how each entity would work with the hospital staff through their protocols. “Everyone who participated in this drill are vital organizations for emergency response in our community, including Maria Parham,” stated Steve Cordell, Henderson Fire Department Fire Chief. “The planning process and the actual drill were very insightful for our team to understand how the hospital will respond to internal emergency situations and how we can better work with and communicate if something takes place on their campus,” stated Cordell.

One of the main focus points for the hospital to review was patient care inside the hospital if a disaster were to happen and how hospital staff would work with emergency responders to treat and transport patients internally. “We work in partnership every day with the hospital to provide care for the people in our community, however, this drill offered the opportunity for us to test our response procedures inside the hospital,” stated Javier Plummer, EMS Director for Vance County. “Our team is used to responding and then communicating with the hospital when an emergency happens. This situation took us out of our standard procedures and gave us a different angle in working with the hospital. I feel both teams performed well and walked away with great opportunities to build on,” stated Plummer.

 A scenario such as an active shooter in any location involves everyone in every emergency response organizations pulling together to diffuse the situation and provide care to the community during and after the situation is over. This drill provided every key emergency response organization in the community valuable insight and opportunities to work better together and provide better response to the communities they serve.

PHOTO CAPTION: Members from Maria Parham Health and emergency response organizations came together to execute an emergency response drill in the form of an active shooter at the hospital. The drill was a success and offered all participates insight into response performance.