Arlington Heights-based hospital holds drill

 
By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 6/11/2011 9:30 AM
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  • Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.com Sgt. Douglas Brown inspects what would be a dead body during a chemical war fare attack. Soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserves unit participated in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Friday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients arriving at the E.R during a disaster. The soldiers also simulated what they would do during a chemical attack and how they would disenfect the bodies.

    Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.com Sgt. Douglas Brown inspects what would be a dead body during a chemical war fare attack. Soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserves unit participated in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Friday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients arriving at the E.R during a disaster. The soldiers also simulated what they would do during a chemical attack and how they would disenfect the bodies.

  • Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comSoldier Justin Gotkowski acts as a wounded patient coming into the E.R during Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserve unit act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

    Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comSoldier Justin Gotkowski acts as a wounded patient coming into the E.R during Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserve unit act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

  • Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comSoldier Adrian Cox is restrained by NWCH officers Chris Blood, left, and Robert Monaco, right, as part of Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

    Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comSoldier Adrian Cox is restrained by NWCH officers Chris Blood, left, and Robert Monaco, right, as part of Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

  • Soldier Adrian Cox is held down by NWCH officers Chris Blood, left, and Robert Monaco. Soldiers in a Chicago Army Reserve unit participated in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Friday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the ER.

      Soldier Adrian Cox is held down by NWCH officers Chris Blood, left, and Robert Monaco. Soldiers in a Chicago Army Reserve unit participated in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Friday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the ER. Samantha Bowden | Staff Photographer

  • Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comPolice officer Chris Blood, left, tries to restrain soldier Adrian Cox, with his partner Robert Monaco. Soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserve unit participate in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

    Samantha Bowden/sbowden@dailyherald.comPolice officer Chris Blood, left, tries to restrain soldier Adrian Cox, with his partner Robert Monaco. Soldiers from a Chicago Army Reserve unit participate in Northwest Community Hospitals disaster drill simulation Saturday afternoon. The hospital had the soldiers act as patients coming into the E.R during a disaster.

Officials at Northwest Community Hospital activated their incident command system Friday as part of a large-scale disaster drill.

As part of their response, they partnered with an Army Reserve Unit from Chicago as well as a mobile mortuary affairs unit from Delaware to help deal with the amount of victims and casualties.

Nearly 50 soldiers volunteered as injured victims, while another two dozen reservists skilled in mortuary affairs worked in the hospital's west parking lot, to assess and classify the casualties.

"We've had other disaster drills at the hospital before, but this is the first time we're partnering with the Army Reserves," said Mary Casey-Lockyer, the emergency preparedness and response coordinator for the hospital.

"It simulates the partnership between the military and the civilian community, which is little known," Lockyer added.

"They would be coming, though, if something of this nature happened."

The scenario they used was a catastrophic event similar to the deadly tornado that tore through Joplin, Mo., last month that killed well over 100 people.

The drill was more than an exercise for hospital personnel.

Just last month, they activated the incident command system, in response to the Metra train crash in Mount Prospect, when they prepared for as many as 200 victims.

In Friday's drill, medical and Army personnel were responding to day three of the disaster, with dozens of injured and deceased workers from an Elk Grove Village industrial park being transported to the site.

Ambulances pulled up one after the next to a triage center set up near the emergency department, where victims were sorted according to the seriousness of their injuries, before moving to different treatment centers and the operating rooms.

"The sorting of injuries is important," Lockyer added. "It sets up a system of priorities and helps us maximize the number of survivors in a mass casualty event."

Army Captain Renita White described the event as a "Red Dragon" mass casualty drill, which her reservists regularly practice with communities throughout the Midwest.

"We're normally a chemical unit," White said. "We're trained to react to an environmental disaster."

Out in the parking lot, soldiers dressed in hazmat suits with gas masks and gloves assessed the casualties before decontaminating remains as if they had been involved in a nuclear, biological or chemical event.

"We can go, drop and set up if there has been a decontamination crisis," said Capt. Kim Ewell Hicks, who heads up the mobile mortuary affairs unit that has been certified by the Federal Emergency Management Association.

During the two-hour drill, the hospital remained open and there was no interruption to patient care. However an announcement went over the public address system throughout the medical center, announcing the start of the disaster drill.