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Accident drill simulates mass casualty incident

— Ninety-six teens involved in a mock freeway collision Thursday between a bus and minivan were transported to Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for treatment of “injuries.”

“This gave us an opportunity to plan for what we would do if a mass casualty incident occurred,” said Andrea Krol, administrative analyst for MCMC. “What really captivated me was having our staff troubleshoot any crisis that came along.”

She said the students, most from Hood River, were assigned different levels of injuries and briefed about how they should act and the symptoms they should exhibit. Twenty five of the “victims” who were assisted in creating gore by emergency responders were taken to Providence and the remainder to MCMC.

Hunter Peterson, 16, a member of the lacrosse team in Hood River, realized something about herself during the exercise. She arrived in The Dalles with a foot injury called “degloving,” which occurs when the skin on a damaged limb is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing the blood supply.

“I learned that I was a really good actress,” she said. “I made it really believable for the ER staff.”

In addition to MCMC and Providence, personnel from Skyline Hospital in White Salmon and Klickitat Valley Hospital in Goldendale participate in the training program. Also involved were: Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue, Columbia Gorge Chapter of the American Red Cross, Mid-Columbia Center for Living, North Central Public Health District, a Health Security Preparedness and Response Program liaison and a Public Health Emergency Preparedness liaison.

Krol said part of the funding for the drill came from the Healthcare Preparedness Program operated by the Oregon Health Authority. She said the hospitals held a similar training exercise last year and would like to make it an annual event.

“I think the biggest challenge for medical personnel was to take injuries seriously that weren’t real, but they worked through that because they realized that something like this could happen and they needed to be ready,” she said.

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