Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

Emergency room doctors cannot stick a chest tube in a fake victim, but mock patients will help hospitals in the region prepare for a mass emergency.

An emergency response drill Thursday will flood hospitals throughout the region including Civista Medical Center in La Plata, Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton and Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederck with seriously injured patients. Emergency rooms will remain open and the drill will not interfere with normal hospital operations.

In coordination with Joint Base Andrews, more than 100 mock victims in disaster makeup will receive care at 13 hospitals, said Cindy Notobartolo, director of emergency management for Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

“You could have somebody with an open gaping wound, with a fake burn all over,” she said. “You can have blood oozing. All of these help us simulate that we can have very sick people after a disaster, and they help staff understand the injury and respond appropriately.”

The scenario is based around a failed aerial demonstration at Joint Base Andrews, where two aircraft fail to complete a maneuver and collide in mid-air. One aircraft will “crash” on base in the spectator area, while the other will crash off base. The drill will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but Notobartolo said hospitals should see victims from 10 a.m. to noon.

The drills are conducted once a year, she said.

“Then we learn lessons, and we figure out how we can improve,” she said. “In the event of a real emergency we can respond appropriately and everyone knows their role.”

Montgomery County has been conducting drills since 2001, and with the military since 2004. The scenarios change every year.

The drills proved useful in 2009 after two Metro trains crashed, killing nine people and injuring 80.

“We are light years ahead of where we were in 2001 with communication and coordination during that event,” she said. “It was because we drilled, because we communicated, because we worked so hard.”

A statement issued today by Civista Medical Center, alerted residents “to anticipate additional helicopter traffic in the area. This exercise will not impact the ability to be promptly seen at local hospitals, but people should be aware that they will likely see mock victims dressed up to look like they have been severely injured, hospital staff in personal protective equipment simulating the decontamination process and hazmat vehicles. People should not be alarmed.”