Northern Health takes part in disaster planning

  • Dec. 12, 2005 2:00 p.m.

Submitted by Northern Health–Northern Health’s QCI General Hospital recently tested its preparedness in the event of a tsunami by taking part in an evacuation exercise.
Students from QC Secondary School acted as simulated patients for the evacuation which was organized as part of the Provincial Emergency Program’s Tsunami Notification Test. The test involved receiving a tsunami warning, coordinating Northern Health and BC Ambulance Service staff in the evacuation and moving ‘patients’ and equipment to a safe location out of harm’s way.
“All of the ‘patients’ were evacuated from the hospital to the on-site medical clinic building that’s located above the 20-meter mark,” said Site Manager Kerry Laidlaw. “BC Ambulance provided support for ‘patients’ who couldn’t move on their own, while NH staff evacuated the rest of the ‘patients’ using stretchers, wheel chairs, and canvas patient evacuation sheets.”
The drill worked as follows: the tsunami warning came in at 9:15 in the morning, with an expected arrival of 10:30; the first ‘patient’ left the hospital at 9:35, with all remaining ‘patients’ evacuated by 9:53; and ‘patients’, staff, supplies, and equipment were relocated to the new site by 10:05, well before the 10:30 tsunami arrival time.
“Tsunamis are very real threats for coastal communities,” said Health Services Administrator Susan Beckermann. “Taking part in these kinds of exercises helps our staff ensure that they’re ready to act with very short warning in the event of a potential disaster.”