Emergency drill helps Oakwood perfect trauma, crisis procedures

Trenton, Mich. – August The scene at the Rotary Park boat launch in Trenton could have been any parent’s worst nightmare: a group of children laying in various state of distress, some moaning in pain with open wounds, others even more disturbingly quiet. Paramedics rushed among the bodies, while an emergency physician assessed the situation to decide which of the victims should be the first to be transported to a nearby hospital.

It was a crisis situation, but not an actual crisis. This was a drill, designed to test response times and procedures at the Oakwood Southshore Medical Center (OSMC) to improve performance in the event of an actual widespread emergency.

“You practice these things to find mistakes and learn from them,” said Arash Armin, DO, the Oakwood emergency physician at the scene. “You hope you don’t have to go through it in real life.”

The exercise was held in conjunction with the southeast Michigan Area Maritime Security Training and Exercise Program (AMSTEP) drill that took place on the Detroit River and involved more than 65 law enforcement and emergency response agencies in Michigan and Canada. In Trenton, the ‘victims’ were injured in a boat collision. There were nearly 30 in all, with simulated injuries as varied as burns to cuts and scrapes to lost limbs. Trenton paramedics arrived first and took an initial assessment of the situation. The call went out to Oakwood Southshore, where a ‘Code Yellow’ alert was called and an incident command center set up. Hospital staff prepared for a large influx of patients and set protocols in motion to inform the public, soothe frantic family members and handle the media.

Kathy Kempf, trauma program coordinator at OSMC, said it was the first major drill the hospital had performed since being designated a Level II Trauma Center by the Michigan Department of Community Health in February. As a Trauma Center, the hospital is the only state-authorized hospital between I-94 and Toledo, OH, that can provide comprehensive care for seriously injured patients.

She said the drills are important because they help the hospital find any weaknesses in their procedures, learn from them, and improve overall plans, response times and care.

“We are committed to providing excellent trauma care and are making a concerted effort to be prepared for any event,” she said.

The volunteer victims in the drill were primarily high school students from the Downriver Career Technical Consortium (DCTC). Girl Scouts from Troop 42285 out of Trenton and Boy Scouts from Troop 1783 out of Southgate also helped out—they can earn an emergency services merit badge for taking part.

The Trenton Fire Department was happy to be a part of the drill, too, both for their own practice and to help the staff at OSMC.

“It’s in our best interest for Oakwood to be successful,” said Paul Haley, emergency management coordinator for the City of Trenton. “As a city, we want to advertise (Oakwood’s) capabilities. We’ll do everything we can to help out.”

CUTLINES: (Above, right) Dr. Arash Armin (right) assesses the scene at the drill site.
(Below) About 30 high school aged children volunteered to portray victims for the drill.