A mock bus accident Wednesday morning sent seven “passengers” to the Seton Medical Center Harker Heights for injuries sustained during the wreck.
Among the wounded was a 74-year-old women transported on a backboard with a possible brain injury.
Emergency and hospital staff were on standby and ready to receive the “patients” as they began to arrive in the Emergency Room.
“We do these drills to prepare for the unexpected,” said Dr. Christopher Colvin, director of emergency medicine. “When a mass casualty happens, we still have sick babies coming in and women ready to deliver their babies. We have to be able to take care of the community and the wounded without a misstep or hesitation.”
Melissa Purl, marketing director for Seton, said the hospital does several drills a year to hone response times and to improve patient tracking.
“We are always ready to respond to an emergency and doing drills keeps everyone’s skills fresh, because you never know when you are going to be called upon to put them to use,” she said, adding that these drills are part of the hospital’s process to attain its trauma-level designation. “We all know what our jobs are and where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do should we get the call.”
The patient with the potential brain injury was played by Cathy Massey, applications analyst and IT specialist for the hospital.
“I survived,” she said. “They were able to stabilize me and determine I didn’t need to be transferred for brain surgery.”
The mock patients, all hospital staffers and volunteers, were assigned various ages and injuries to put Seton medical staff to the test.
“This gives us the opportunity to really stress our multidisciplinary team, assess our capabilities and identify room for improvement,” Colvin said. “After, we discuss what we could have done better and faster.”
Colvin knows all too well what to expect when the code comes in. He was working at Scott & White in Temple when the 2009 Fort Hood shooting occurred.
“When you see it in real life, it puts you in a different type of stress response that can’t be recreated, but during a drill, you still go through the same motions you would in a real situation,” he said about applying his real life experiences into hospital drills. “You are getting inundated with so many people who are screaming and bleeding to death, so you really have to have all hands on deck and not let that type of visceral response throw you or affect your treatment response.”
Firefighters and paramedics Trey Houston and Ben West, with the Harker Heights Fire Department, assisted in transporting patients during the drill.