University Hospitals St. John Medical Center welcomed members of the Dept. of Homeland Security to a special exercise on Fri., March 9 that focused on the hospital’s readiness in the event of a terrorist emergency.
The four-hour exercise included representatives of the Westlake Police and Fire Depts., WESTCOM Dispatch, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, the Dept. of Homeland Security, FBI and many members of the hospital staff in including administration, medical and support staff.
The exercise focused on a mock scenario: It was a typical Saturday at UH SJMC in the busy Emergency Room waiting area when a vehicle suddenly crashes through the entrance and two individuals with weapons emerge, creating havoc.
The scenario created an opportunity for all to review responses, coordinate protocols and discuss preparations in the event the unthinkable happens.
“This is all about vigilance,” said UH SJMC President and CEO Robert G. David at the end of the day. “It is all about being ready, thinking ahead and having plans in place. Just like an athlete has to think three steps ahead, so do we. That is what this was all about.”
Discussion question covered comprehensive topics:
- Mitigation procedures in the event of a threat;
- What level of security is at the organization;
- What protocols are in place to warn employees of the emergency;
- How are facility employees trained to respond?
- How are local agencies alerted to the incident;
- How is the community alerted?;
- What happens if the cellular network is overwhelmed?
- How is public information handled?
Discussion questions surrounded all these concerns, and open dialogue was encouraged. Post-incident dialogue also took place and all had opportunities to assess all aspects of the scenario.