Pocahontas Memorial Hospital is required to conduct a minimum of two disaster drills each year. These drills simulate an emergency situation that staff has to deal with accordingly.
Outside evaluators are on hand the entire time to evaluate the hospital's response. After the "disaster" is over, a debriefing is held to go over what went well and what did not. While the drills are always taken very seriously, there is still an element of make believe that make the exercises fun. Weeks of planning usually go into these drills so one is still left wondering how the response might go in the event of a true, unplanned disaster.
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital's most recent disaster drill was a little more real. On Oct. 11, the hospital received word of the log truck/train accident at the Cheat Mountain Bridge with the possibility of 63 people injured.
Ambulances from the Pocahontas County Squads as well as the hospital crew immediately responded, in addition to squads from Webster and Randolph counties. At the hospital, Code Triage (mass casualty) was initiated. Pocahontas Memorial Hospital did not know if injured victims might be brought to the facility, but the staff responded as the professionals they are. As the current on-clock staff worked to prepare the facility, they were soon joined by staff that quickly changed their "day-off" plans to report and assist in case they were needed.
Although Pocahontas Memorial Hospital did not receive any of the victims, due mostly to the location of the wreck, according to Chief Executive Officer Barbara Lay, "We were ready. And that is a great feeling." Oct. 11 will serve as one of the hospital's disaster drills for the year. At a debriefing on Oct. 16, the great attitudes and calmness of the staff were praised.
"You could tell everyone takes ownership in providing great care," Alan Burley, human resources coordinator, said.
As the only hospital in the 940 square miles that make up Pocahontas County, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital is extremely proud of the high quality of care that they are able to provide with 24- hour emergency services and a Level IV Trauma Center. For more information about PMH, visit our website at www.pmhwv.org.