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UH Geauga Holds Disaster Drill

UH Geauga emergency room staff work on a volunteer, acting as a victim of a shooting, in the Trauma Center set up in the ambulance bay during a disaster drill on May 23. (MP Photo/Colleen Lockhart)

By Colleen Lockhart

Twenty victims, one every 3 minutes, that was the goal of the Trauma Center during the disaster drill held on the morning of May 23 at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center in Chardon. This drill was held to test the emergency response systems at UH Geauga, where the drill was staged for the hospital staff only to closely simulate the events of recent shootings in the United States.  

An overview of the plan for the drill was discussed in a briefing at 6:30 a.m. The ambulance bay was set up as a patient receiving and stabilization area with patients expected to start arriving at 7 a.m. A slight delay in the drill schedule occurred when a real patient was transported to the Trauma Center by ambulance and hurried into the emergency room. This is just one of many real-life emergencies they would also have to handle during a real, mass-trauma event.  

Don Zimmerman, the emergency coordinator at UH Training & Disaster Preparedness Institute, took the lead on the drill, setting up the scenario and evaluating the outcome. For this drill, at 6:45 a.m. a shooter was active at the fairgrounds and had targeted the grandstand audience. Gun shots were reported, individuals were trampled, and in a situation like this, the injured would not be treated on the scene but would be transported to the ER using police or citizen vehicles. The victims were transported directly to UH in Chardon, the closest facility. Volunteer victims were there to help make the drill a more realistic experience for responders in the Trauma Center. Dummies were also labeled with various injuries that the emergency staff would have to handle. 

Toni Zemitas, nurse manager in Emergency Services, evaluated the preparedness of the Emergency Response teams in an uncontrolled, chaotic environment to determine the readiness of the ER staff, their needs and needed supplies to have on hand. 

For the drill only, additional staffing was called in to experience how an actual event might occur in a real disaster.  Problems were evaluated and readiness solutions were discussed.  In a real event, UH Senior Media Relations strategist Lynn Novelli would have established a Command Center to coordinate with other agencies responding to the emergency.  

The goal of UH Geauga Medical Center in a disaster is to save lives, secure the area, and handle family reunification. Although they cannot plan for every event, UH Geauga wants the public to know that its Trauma Center is training hospital employees for mass trauma events and practicing preparedness for disaster situations that might happen in Geauga County. 


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