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Tripler Army Medical Center Public Affairs
HONOLULU — Tripler Army Medical Center participated in a joint-service mass casualty exercise called “Operation Chianti,” here, July 20, as part of the U.S. Navy’s Rim of the Pacific exercise, or RIMPAC.
The disaster scenario involved a 9.5-magnitude earthquake that hit Chile and generated a 25-foot tsunami. The tsunami devastated the island of “Chianti,” leaving significant damage and numerous fatalities and injuries.
TAMC staff immediately activated the mass casualty, or MASCAL, emergency operations plan while awaiting the first surge of patients to arrive by air and ground. TAMC and the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks treated 62 injuries during this Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief MASCAL exercise.
This year’s challenges were unique because it was the first time 23 civilian hospitals participated in MASCAL alongside TAMC.
Thomas Bookman, emergency manager and medical planning officer, Pacific Regional Medical Command, spent the last two years working with Toby Clairmont, director of Emergency Services, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, or HAH, and Lt. Cmdr. Patricia Serrano, deputy fleet surgeon, U.S. Third Fleet, to coordinate the exercise.
“With the help of the 18th (Medical Command), we had the Deployable Rapid Assembly Shelter operational (completed) in an hour and 10 minutes,” Bookman said. “It went seamlessly.”
For the first time, TAMC deployed its Special Medical Command Response Team, Stress Management Team and Pastoral Care Team.
TAMC also used three ambulance buses, and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii deployed two Handi-vans for transportation from Ford Island to HAH coalition hospitals.
In addition, officials tested the Hawaii Patient Assessment and Tracking System, or HPATS, during the exercise.
HPATS can assist with the allocation and re-allocation of resources and support. With supervision from Christopher Crabtree, program development coordinator, HAH Emergency Services, 22 health care facilities were trained in the basic use of HPATS and provided access to the system prior to the start of the RIMPAC exercise.
“We staged casualties at two sites,” Bookman said. “The location of all live and deceased victims were mapped and marked with coordinates, passing information along to Army National Guard Urban Search and Rescue so that stabilizing and rescue could begin. (The equipment) provided a live feedback so Navy (participants) could see it. The Army National Guard Urban Search and Rescue Team, under the direction of Capt. Aaron Blanchard, rescued casualties from piles of rubble.
“It was a big success,” Bookman added.
Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander, PRMC and TAMC, was the incident commander for the exercise and oversaw the activities from the PRMC/TAMC Hospital Command Center, which provides command and control for internal and external disasters.
“These exercises enable us to work on procedures and scenarios that we don’t (deal with) every day,” Gallagher said. “When this kind of event really happens, the fact that we are up on the hilltop means that we have a responsibility to the community, and we will take that responsibility seriously and do, I think, extremely well.”
Twenty-two nations, 40 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in this year’s RIMPAC exercise.