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ED Manag. 2012 May;24(5):49-52.

EDs in the Midwest and South activate disaster plans as deadly tornadoes sweep through the region.

[No authors listed]


Hospitals in the Midwest and South activated their disaster plans in early March to deal with a phalanx of powerful tornadoes that leveled several small towns and killed at least two dozen people. Some hospitals had to activate plans for both internal and external disasters as their own facilities were threatened. One small critical-access hospital in West Liberty, KY, sustained significant damage and had to evacuate its patients to another facility. All the hospitals credit their disaster plans and practice drills with helping them to manage the crisis as efficiently as possible. Morgan County ARH Hospital in West Liberty, KY, went for several days without an operational lab or radiology department, but staff kept the ED open for absolute emergencies. Margaret Mary Community Hospital (MMCH) in Batesville, IN, received six tornado victims, but it was prepared for many more. Administrators credit advanced warning of the storms with helping them to prepare effectively, as well as to coordinate their response with other hospitals in the area. As a level 1 trauma center, the University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, KY, received all the most seriously injured patients in the region, even while the facility itself was under a tornado warning. Staff had to route families away from the glassed-in waiting room to the basement until the tornado warning had passed. At one point during the crisis, there were 90 patients in the hospital's ED even though the department is only equipped with 29 beds. Administrators at Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, AL, encouraged colleagues to take advantage of smaller-scale emergencies to activate parts of their disaster plans, and to focus disaster preparation drills on their hospital's top hazard vulnerabilities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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