TAMC teams with community, VA in mass casualty exercise

| February 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Stephen Goodson (right), volunteer moulage artist, applies a fake burn to Lina La, nursing student, University of Hawaii-Manoa, in preparation of a mass casualty exercise at TAMC, Feb. 5. The mock incident involved an explosion in the Center for Aging’s kitchen and required the treatment of casualties on site and evacuation to TAMC’s emergency room.

Stephen Goodson (right), volunteer moulage artist, applies a fake burn to Lina La, nursing student, University of Hawaii-Manoa, in preparation of a mass casualty exercise at TAMC, Feb. 5. The mock incident involved an explosion in the Center for Aging’s kitchen and required the treatment of casualties on site and evacuation to TAMC’s emergency room.

Story and photos by Stephanie Rush
Pacific Regional Medical Center Public Affairs

Tripler Army Medical Center activated its mass casualty emergency operations plan after receiving word of a simulated explosion in the Center for Aging’s kitchen, here, Feb. 5.

The mock incident was part of the Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System’s mass casualty exercise, which involved treating casualties on site before evacuating them to Tripler’s emergency room.

“Per the Joint Commission, the Center for Aging must conduct an evacuation exercise every 18 months,” explained Steve Burton, emergency preparedness planning officer, VA PIHCS. “VA PIHCS must, just like TAMC, conduct two exercises a year.”

Conducting joint exercises is nothing new for TAMC and VA.

Spc. Jonathan Nguyen (left), moulage artist and medic, Gastroenterology Clinic, TAMC, applies the finishing touches to Karen Aguda’s fake neck wound, Feb. 5. Aguda and several of her nursing classmates from the University of Hawaii-Manoa played casualties during a mass casualty exercise held at TAMC’s Center for Aging.

Spc. Jonathan Nguyen (left), moulage artist and medic, Gastroenterology Clinic, TAMC, applies the finishing touches to Karen Aguda’s fake neck wound, Feb. 5. Aguda and several of her nursing classmates from the University of Hawaii-Manoa played casualties during a mass casualty exercise held at TAMC’s Center for Aging.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Bethea, future operations and plans noncommissioned officer, Pacific Regional Medical Command, Tripler and VA PIHCS collaborate on numerous exercises during the year, to include large joint operations such as RIMPAC and Makani Pahili, Hawaii’s annual hurricane exercise.

“It is important to conduct collaborative exercises to see what each organization can bring to the incident and how you can help each other improve, and to better communicate,” Bethea said. “The TAMC participants learned how the Veterans Affairs conducts business.”

Combining resources and assisting other agencies with vital services, such as transportation, communication, manpower and health care, is crucial to responding to an emergency or disaster effectively.

 Spc. Jonathan Nguyen (kneeling), moulage artist and medic, Gastroenterology Clinic, Tripler Army Medical Center, applies the finishing touches to Daniel Amimoto’s fake stomach wound, here, Feb. 5. Animoto and several of his nursing classmates from the University of Hawaii-Manoa played casualties during a mass casualty exercise held at the Center for Aging.

Spc. Jonathan Nguyen (kneeling), moulage artist and medic, Gastroenterology Clinic, Tripler Army Medical Center, applies the finishing touches to Daniel Amimoto’s fake stomach wound, here, Feb. 5. Animoto and several of his nursing classmates from the University of Hawaii-Manoa played casualties during a mass casualty exercise held at the Center for Aging.

“TAMC provided a significant amount of support to the (Center of Aging),” Burton said. “The exercise validated our ability to design and evaluate a realistic disaster scenario that would, in fact, require a tremendous amount of joint response resources.”

Tripler’s emergency room and the VA PIHCS weren’t the only players in the exercise.

Also participating were Navy Region Hawaii’s Federal Fire Department, the City and County of Honolulu’s Emergency Medical Services, local nursing students and Tripler’s Provost Marshal’s Office.

One of the two mandated exercises for Tripler and VA PIHCS must involve community partners and simulated causalities.

The 12 casualties the scenario called for were played by University of Hawaii-Manoa nursing students.

Before the exercise kicked off, moulage artists used clay, putty and paint to apply wounds and simulate injuries that would be sustained in an explosion.

Their simulated injuries ranged in severity, and those who were injured had to be treated on the ground and evacuated with the assistance of first responders, including firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

Even though the wounds are simulated, first responders and health care workers are able to better identify and treat injuries and respond to training scenarios appropriately when they look as realistic as possible.

“Although conducting exercises is a regulatory requirement, our community partners help validate and improve our organizational and community emergency operations planning and response capabilities,” Burton said. “Our staff gains valuable, realistic experience and confidence. It ensures the readiness of everyone involved to appropriately respond to any all-hazard emergency or disaster in order to save the lives of our staff, patients and visitors.”

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