Oakwood, Wayne/Westland fire department team up on tornado response drill

The staff at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital took the concept of a tornado drill to the ultimate extreme on Wednesday. With the help of dozens of volunteers and cooperation with the Wayne/Westland Fire Department, staff tested the hospital’s ability to handle a large-scale emergency caused by a tornado that touched down within the community.

“As the only certified Level III Trauma Center in western Wayne County, we have to be prepared for any and all emergencies,” said Eric Widner, division president of Oakwood Annapolis Hospital. “Obviously, this is something we hope we never have to experience, but it is important for us to ensure our staff is ready and that we can take care of patients and serve the community no matter what type of crisis we face.”

Under the drill scenario, the tornado destroyed several homes and sent dozens to the emergency department to seek care. The drill also factored in possibilities that the hospital itself may be damaged and that patients may need to be evacuated from any—or all—floors.

More than 80 volunteers took part, including 60 mock victims that volunteered from four different nursing programs. Firefighters from the Wayne-Westland Fire Association simulated a rooftop evacuation with a 120-foot ladder truck.

“It was important to get as many people involved in this exercise as possible,” said John Cargill, Trauma and Emergency Management Coordinator at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital, who coordinated the disaster drill. “We wanted to test our emergency management procedures as realistically as we could and determine how we would respond if we were pushed to our limits—and beyond.”

Afterward, Oakwood and emergency response staff got together to discuss what went right and look for opportunities for improvement.

“We learned a lot during this exercise,” said Widner. “Overall, I think our staff and the community worked well together. It was gratifying to see that the skills and values we practice every day provided an excellent foundation for us during this ‘crisis.’ We hope that something like this never happens in our community but if it does, we’ll be prepared for it.”

CUTLINES: Douglas Grucz, MD, and Jennifer Rivera, RN, evaluate mock patient RoseAnn Dubke during a tornado response drill at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital on Wednesday. About 60 volunteer ‘victims’ were treated during the exercise, which was designed to test the hospital’s ability to respond to a large scale community emergency.