Naval Hospital Bremerton to hold mock earthquake drill Aug. 8

Honing skills to master a disaster, Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) will be tested and evaluated during a full-scale mock exercise called “Operation Fire Arrow” on Aug. 8.

The full-scale training exercise will provide NHB the opportunity to assess command readiness, emergency response, and emergency evacuation to major seismic aftershocks from an earthquake, which many experts say is less a matter of “if,” rather than “when.”

Some of the main objectives of the exercise will be to rapidly assist patients, visitors and staff with injuries, assess damage to the facility, track patients through treatment areas and begin preparation to sustain emergency operations for up to 72 hours, if necessary.

NHB’s Urgent Care Clinic staff could receive mass casualties with (simulated) patients for a variety of injuries associated with an earthquake, such as abrasions, lacerations and contusions.

Triage responses will be assessed on their ability to set up, activate, treat and transport ambulatory and non-ambulatory trauma patients to correct treatment areas and-or community partners, like Harrison Medical Center.

The drill will give NHB the ability to meet specific objectives for Joint Commission Emergency Management standards. For example, staff roles and responsibilities with a drop-cover-and-hold drill and senior leadership involvement and emergency operations activating the Hospital Command Center in response to the seismic event. Testing of the communications and staff responsibilities using a mass notification message sent to all hands through the Live Process alert system. Testing the facilities and utility management evacuation response in specific areas and buildings, this will include safely evacuating the staff and patients from the Multi-Service Ward located on the fifth floor of the main building.

This event will also test external agency-communications, by communicating with local branch health clinics, Navy Medicine West in San Diego, and other applicable civilian agencies.

Additional tests will be conducted on instances of ‘patient surge and community-wide participation’ by coordinating with other federal, county, and city partners to handle casualties via available fire and emergency medical service ambulances.

Finally, the simulation will test facilities’ ability to communicate with the public during an emergency, disseminating timely, accurate and concise information in multiple press releases to inform external media and internal audiences.

In 2007, NHB became the only Navy Medicine facility to be retrofitted to improve its structural ability to withstand a large quake. This is due in part to where NHB is situated and previous earthquakes, such as the 2001 Nisqually quake, which measured at 6.8 on the Richter scale.

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