On June 9, HEM students partnered with the Sandwich Fire Department, Cape Cod Collaborative, and Outerlink to perform an elementary school evacuation exercise of nine children with disabilities. The exercise was titled “Operation S.T.A.R. Trek”.
This exercise served as a practice in the evacuation and transportation of nine children with disabilities from Cape Cod Collaborative elementary school to a safe offsite location. Sandwich, MA Fire Department and Police Department ran incident command, Sandwich EMTs triaged students as they arrived at the offsite location, Boston University Healthcare Emergency Medicine masters students served various roles under the Incident Commander, and Outerlink LLC supplied GPS tracking devices used to ensure that no students were unaccounted for during the exercise.
“The team performance was exceptional. The interagency, public/private, academic team that was created for the purposes of this exercise ran seamlessly. It was clear that this high-functioning team would perform just as well in a true crisis situation. Operation S.T.A.R. Trek can serve as a terrific national model for small-scale exercises in local communities.”
-Kandra Strauss-Riggs, MPH, National Center for Disaster Medicine & Public Health (observer)
The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands evacuated in simulated hurricane:
Hospital simulation turns plan into action
By George Brennan
July 22, 2010
EAST SANDWICH — Yesterday afternoon, while the sun was poking through clouds on the rest of Cape Cod, a category 2 hurricane swept through a small portion of Sandwich, causing minor damage to a hospital and injuries to patients.
The mock storm, Hurricane Elaine, battered the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands with 100 mph winds. It was only a test, but emergency officials said hospital staff passed.
“It’s given us good information,” said Carole Stasiowski, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
During the two-hour drill, three “patients” were evacuated, one with cardiac distress, and taken to Cape Cod Hospital by ambulance.
“The evacuation was done quickly and successfully,” said Stephanie Nadolny, vice president of clinical services, who coordinated the hospital’s emergency command center.
If a hurricane had actually been forecast, the hospital would take precautions by boarding up some windows in advance to create safe zones, said Carl Smith, facilities engineer for the hospital. Some patients would also be moved in advance to other hospitals or even sent home if they’re able, said director of nurses Martha Hunter. The “hurricane” hit just after 1 p.m. Nurses, doctors and other staff at the hospital scurried to their stations as a code was called over the intercom to alert them to the emergency. Moments later, the lights went out and an emergency generator kicked in.
Patients were told about the disaster drill through signs and an announcement over the hospital’s intercom system. The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands, which has beds for as many as 60 patients, held yesterday’s drill in cooperation with the Sandwich Fire Department. The idea was to test its emergency plan — specifically the generator and a new radio system installed at the hospital.
“The number one problem in (Hurricane) Katrina was the lack of communication, especially with hospitals,” said J.J. Burke, the fire department’s safety officer, in outlining the reasons for the drill.
Graduate students from Boston University acted as patients to test evacuation procedures. The hospital serves patients who have been seriously injured or undergone surgery before they return home. The hospital would be able to continue operating on generators, back-up communications systems and food for about a week, building manager Carl Smith said. Extra cots, linens and supplies are available at a nearby warehouse, Nadolny said.
The new radio system operated by the Cape Cod Amateur Radio Emergency Service allows the hospital to stay in contact with other hospitals and agencies during a powerful storm. Among its features is the ability to send e-mail, including vital medical records, said Frank O’Laughlin, district emergency coordinator.
“It worked out superbly,” he said after yesterday’s drill.
Burlington, MA Flu Clinic
On November 14, 2009 students of the Healthcare Emergency Management program served as the evaluation team for the Burlington Board of Health Mass Prophylaxis Exercise in Burlington, Massachusetts. The exercise was as both an opportunity for students to work in the field as evaluators, and a seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccination clinic for over 1000 people of all ages.
“I am very grateful that the program was there to evaluate. The students were professional, polite, cooperative and helpful. Having the hotwash immediately after the event was helpful and provided us with insights we don’t usually get. It was great to have a set of independent eyes”
– Sharon Walker Mastenbrook, MA, MS, RS/REHS, Director of Public Health, Burlington Board of Health
George Mason University H1N1 Workshop
On November 20, 2009, the Healthcare Emergency Management program participated in Communicating Influenza Vaccination Evidence and Knowledge Base, a workshop hosted by George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. The HEM program sent two professors and two masters students to the workshop.
Along with representatives from NASA, ISMR, Inova Health Systems and the CDC, our students participated in panel discussions and provided a critical paper on Mandating Vaccinations.
Drive-Thru Flu Clinic
Operation Gentle Voice
In this exercise, the BU HEM program partnered with the United States Office of Minority Health and several Montgomery County, Maryland agencies on a simulated measles outbreak. The Montgomery County 311 call center was tested on its ability to process calls regarding the outbreak, which included language translation capability. The BU HEM students were role players speaking in their first language, some of which required transfer to the language line. The Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management participated and the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Department opened its public health command and call-taking center. The hybrid exercise tested risk communication policies and language interpretation and translation capabilities of the county.