UMH Stages Successful Drill to Prepare for Unthinkable Disaster

Last Wednesday unfolded at University of Miami Hospital as the kind of day doctors, nurses and other staff hope they will never see, but are well-prepared to handle: An explosion on a cruise ship two miles offshore had unleashed smoke, fire and a chemical vapor of unknown origin, inflicting various burns, respiratory distress, blunt trauma and lacerations on 150 people. Some of the survivors were being transported to UMH.

Fortunately, the mass casualty incident was a mock exercise designed to test, evaluate and ultimately strengthen UMH’s Medical Surge and Fatality Management capabilities, ensuring hospital personnel and their community partners are ready and equipped to treat multiple disaster victims who require decontamination and a range of medical interventions.

More than 100 UMH personnel were involved in the exercise to rapidly deploy and operate an Incident Command Center in the UMH board room, and external triage and decontamination centers outside the Emergency Department to treat eight patients, who were actually UMH nursing students.

The three-hour exercise, which also involved participants from the Miami-Dade County Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, Jackson Memorial Hospital, the UM/JM Burn Center and the Miami VA Medical Center, concluded with a thumbs-up from Douglas von der Crone, UMH’s Safety Officer and Emergency Preparedness Manager.

“The evaluation concluded that UMH capabilities in managing such an incident are very strong,’’ said von der Crone, who led UMH’s Exercise Planning Committee. “Communication and coordination to attain control and chain of command were excellent at operationally supporting the efforts on the ground, and upheld the safety and security of all persons.”

Also serving on the planning committee and playing key roles in the exercise were David Zambrana, Chief Operating Officer; JoAnn Trybulski, Chief Nursing Officer; Carlos Aja, Executive Director of Operations; Lori Lupe, Executive Director of Acute Care, Professional Practice and Standards, and the Emergency Department; Stephanie Moss, Ph.D., Executive Director of Nursing; Todd Haner, Director of the Emergency Department; Robert Levine, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Emergency Department; Rolando Rivero, Director of Plant Operations; and Nancy Laguerre, Director of Environmental Services.

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