Mass casualty response on a local level

Both Union and Regional Hospitals in Terre Haute have plans in place for when disaster strikes.

Posted: Oct. 5, 2017 5:02 AM
Updated: Oct. 5, 2017 5:02 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - When tragedy strikes, it's all hands on deck in a hospital.

Jacqueline Becker is a Registered Nurse in Union Hospital’s Emergency Room. She frequently sees traumatic events with her profession.

Becker says, "Unfortunately you are prepared for something like that. You're always on guard any time you're here. It's something that with the world today you have to look at all possibilities."

After the mass casualty shooting in Las Vegas, Becker is thinking how she'd react if something like that happened in the Wabash Valley.

Becker says, "It is shocking but being in this field we've dealt with it before. So it's something that whenever it comes in, you know in advance, so you prepare yourself mentally for it. It's something that takes special people to do, nursing, in all fields."

Luckily, both Union and Regional Hospitals in Terre Haute have plans in place for when disaster strikes.

Regional Hospital’s Trauma Medical Director, Christine Toevs says, "We have a disaster plan here for internal disasters as well as scene disasters and how to handle those patients. Union has the same. The district has a disaster plan to help with these type of events and the state has a disaster plan."

Both Terre Haute hospitals are working year-round to hone in on their skills in case disaster strikes. But as it turns out it takes a lot of teamwork throughout the community to handle a disaster with efficiency.

Union Hospital’s EMS Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Barry Nicoson says, "A tragedy of that magnitude that happened in Las Vegas would just tax our resources here in this area very quickly. Terre Haute Fire Department has 3 ambulances on-staff and three backups. Trans Care. We'd have to reach out to Parke County, to Sullivan County, to Greene County. Probably call Operation Life in Putnam County."

Even with a plan in place, and practice year-round, preparation for a major medical event doesn't stop there.

Toevs says, "Any time there's a drill there's a de-briefing. Anytime there's an actual disaster we do a de-briefing. We make sure we utilized our resources correctly, and what can we do better next time?"

Proving hospitals and first responders are working constantly to ensure families in, and visiting the Wabash Valley, have the best care possible.

The American College of Surgeons has a rating system for the level of care a hospital can provide.

A "one" rating is the highest. Regional Hospital is about to be upgraded to a Level 2 Trauma Center, and Union Hospital is currently a Level 3.

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