Early Thursday morning the Marshall Browning Hospital Emergency Room was inundated with screams of pans of pain, bloody patients, and upset family members. Luckily, it was just a drill – this time.
A full-scale disaster drill took part starting at 3 a.m. to test the hospital's capability of handling a disaster with mass casualties.
The scenario simulated an EF3 tornado hitting an apartment complex in Du Quoin. Ambulances and private vehicles brought in numerous “patients” with a variety of injuries consistent with a severe weather trauma situation.
Hospital nurses and managers were called in on a “code orange” alert, signifying a disaster had taken place. The employees weren't told it was a drill up front.
Organizers say testing the impact of a tornado in the middle of the night when staffing is at its lowest truly tests how the hospital could realistically respond to a disaster.
This was Marshall Browning Hospital's first-ever overnight disaster drill, and organizers tell Heartland News the employees rose to the task and worked extremely well under pressure. The drill helped expose weaknesses and educate staff on how to react to a mass casualty situation.
Organizers say the goal of the exercise to make sure Marshall Browning Hospital and its employees will be prepared should a real disaster strike.