Evacuation Exercise Prepares UHealth Tower for Disaster Response
An emergency evacuation exercise was held at UHealth Tower on June 25, the result of a months-long planning process to prepare and train the University of Miami Health System to respond in case there is ever an event that requires a full hospital evacuation.
The primary purpose of the “Full Building Evacuation, Full Scale Exercise” was to test emergency response plans, policies, and procedures. Recent U.S. disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes have shown the critical need for health care facilities to have an evacuation plan in place.
In the exercise scenario, UHealth Tower lost commercial electrical power and generator power, raising the building temperature above 87 degrees and prompting a decision to relocate all patients offsite. All hospital operational departments participated in the exercise, managed by the hospital incident command team.
The primary objectives were to maintain timely communication throughout the hospital, coordinate and support patient preparation activities, and assist with the continuity of care throughout the process of moving patients.
“We are grateful to everyone who participated in this important evacuation exercise,” said Stephen L. Demers, chief operating officer of UHealth and CEO of University of Miami Hospital and Clinics and UHealth Tower. “The hard work and insight from every department were invaluable to preparing the University and our community partners to respond to and recover from a full-scale emergency.”
An evacuation of this type of facility is a complex event that requires detailed planning. To ensure an effective exercise, subject matter experts, hospital personnel (including emergency management, public safety, facilities and clinical representation), communications, and local representatives from many agencies took part in the planning process, exercise execution and evaluation.
The evacuation devices used throughout the exercise were the same equipment that would be used for a real emergency. The MedSled and Stair Chair apparatuses enable staff to transport non-ambulatory patients down a stairwell in order to exit the building quickly and safely.