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Indiana hospitals use real events to simulate disaster response

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Central Indiana hospitals took part in a training today to not only help staff, but keep you safe.

Nurses at Community Hospital East in Indianapolis treated patients with life-threatening injuries Friday.

“Can you see me?” asked a nurse. “Alright, I’m going to have you follow my finger.” Patients were dealing with injuries to their arms, chest and head.

While it appeared to be real, it’s all part of a drill. “Our whole hospital is participating today,” Network Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for Community Health Network Elisa Stott said.

Employees simulated a tornado coming through downtown Indianapolis, injuring dozens with explosions and hazmat spills.

“Instead of stopping to think about what they’re doing, they’re just doing it and it almost becomes like an everyday response rather than a disaster response,” Stott said.

They weren’t the only ones. Twenty five Central Indiana Hospitals took part in the drill.

It was organized by the hospital preparedness planning committee. If a disaster were to take place, a communication center would be set-up.

There, Indiana Homeland Security agents, American Red Cross and health experts work with the hospitals to coordinate resources and share patient information.

“We try to use things that didn’t work so well in responses and see if we can improve on them,” District 5 Hospital Preparedness Chair Ron Reitenour said.

It’s not just about helping employees but also bettering communication between hospitals. Because if something were to happen they need to communicate.

“None of us want another hospital to go down because that affects us even worse than any type of situation,” Stott said. “So we’re all planning together so that we’re all ready to help each other.”

“It’s all simulated but the staff in the hospitals have to act like it’s a real event,” Reitenour said.

Organizers put on this drill once a year. It costs $40,000, but organizers say that’s covered by grants.

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