TEMA holds large scale disaster exercise

BRISTOL, TN (WJHL-TV) – If you noticed a lot of emergency personnel at Bristol Motor Speedway or a larger than normal number of people in the E-R, don’t worry.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) held its 2016 Tennessee Catastrophic Exercise today at several locations, including BMS and Bristol Regional Medical Center. This annual, large scale catastrophic exercise involved many local emergency management, fire and rescue personnel running thru a large scale disaster drill.

Each location was working from the same disaster scenario, a severe weather event where a tornado has hit Bristol Motor Speedway during an event and there are multiple injuries with various degrees of severity. Bristol Regional Medical Center also had the added development of a power outage throughout the hospital.

“You never know when this is going to happen, unlike these simulated events, an external disaster or or even internal, you never know when it is going to happen, so you just have to be prepared and ready and it is good to have gone thru this because then you have some comfort with the role you are going to be jumping into.”, says E-R Physician Dr. Kelly Chumbley.

While crews at the racetrack were searching for and trying to rescue injured people, the hospital was dealing with the large influx of trauma patients, some with very serious or life threatening injuries.

“A lot of these injuries are injuries that we see on a regular basis every day, but it is very different when you have a large influx of patients from a traumatic event and you have to be making decisions faster, allocating your resources faster, and that’s kind of what this is.”, explains Dr. Chumbley, “We do this every day, these people come in with injuries and trauma on a daily basis here, but it is the massive influx of patients is what you have to be prepared to take care of. Especially with us being trauma centers, we know that if an incident were to happen in a rural community, we’re still going to get a large influx of patients from that rural community to here because we’re trauma centers.”

In drills like this, rescue workers and hospital staff can really get an idea of what to expect in these situations when communication is limited and time is of the essence.

“They do make a real life scenario for each patient, some patients are not able to communicate, some have limited communication, so you just kinda have to go based on the information you get.”, says Dr. Chumbley, “It is a little more hectic in that situation, because often times when people come in from MVAs here,we get some information a little bit better, but the rapid influx of patients sometimes limits your information gathering ability, so you’re really kinda going a lot off what you see, what you find on your physical exam and working that up.”

TEMA does these type of drills around once a year.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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