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Cedars-Sinai Stages Disaster Drill

Cedars-Sinai Stages Disaster Drill to Identify Areas of Improvement

The young woman arrived in the ED with a crushed pelvis and a severed carotid artery. Other injured patients streamed in behind her -- an elderly man with severe facial burns, a pregnant woman going into premature labor and a couple of teens bleeding from head and neck lacerations.

The 25 "patients" -- part of a mock disaster drill -- were victims of a suicide bomber who detonated an explosive device onboard a Los Angeles bus. The bombing formed the scenario for the February 15 drill that Cedars-Sinai personnel staged in cooperation with community first responders, including the Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, American Medical Response and Hatzolah, a volunteer medical rescue group.

"As a trauma center and a developing Disaster Resource Center for Los Angeles County, we must prepare to handle a large influx of trauma patients from a mass casualty event," said Ryan Tuchmayer, CSMC disaster/surge coordinator. "This drill required the hospital to go into disaster mode and reorganize operating rooms, pre-op and recovery rooms, ICU beds and general medical/surgical beds for the influx of patients."
The hospital command center was activated, and an external code triage was called. "Patients" comprised of hospital volunteers and students were made up to look like they had injuries consistent with an explosion. After being triaged by first responders at the scene, patients were transported to the ED for emergency treatment and then sent to a variety of destinations, including Imaging, the OR, PACU and ICU. Also participating from the medical staff were members of the trauma team, NICU and OB/Gyn, as well as a number of house staff.

"The ED is very capable of handling a large surge in patients and, overall, the drill went well," said Dan Katz, M.D., an attending physician in ED. "We encountered some logistical issues that need to be worked out in our follow-up, including the need for improved communication between departments."

Such drills are mandated by JCAHO and, as a trauma center receiving federal funding, Cedars-Sinai must regularly test its trauma patient surge capabilities.
"The importance of each drill is not to find out what works, but to identify areas that can be improved," said J. Louis Cohen, M.D., medical director of the OR. "These types of drills will continue to help us to deal more effectively with mass casualty incidents at the medical center."

(Photos by Bill Pollard of Medical Media)