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    WRNMMC staff conducts Code Green emergency response exercise



    Story by Alpha Kamara 

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

    By Alpha Kamara, WRNMMC Command Communications

    WRNMMC, Bethesda, MD – About 400 staff members of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center participated in a Code Green exercise Dec. 9. The exercise was conducted to test the hospital’s ability to respond to a mass casualty incident.

    Forty (40) departments in the hospital sent 150 personnel to designated mass casualty stations upon Code Green activation following a mock or simulated multi-vehicle accident on the I-495 inner loop near the medical center. Twenty (20) volunteers from multiple units in the hospital served as mass casualty victims.

    The essence of the ‘code green’ exercise-mass casualty plan and response

    Chris Gillette, WRNMMC’s command emergency manager, said the exercise was designed to test and evaluate the hospital’s mass casualty plan activation procedures. The Primary objectives he said, consisted of emergency notification, staff response, setting-up casualty receiving areas and surge capabilities.

    Teamwork and communication were also an essential part of this exercise.

    “In a crisis situation, nothing goes as planned, so it’s important that we have procedures in place and conduct training throughout the year to ensure we are ready to respond while most importantly, ensuring the safety and security of our patients, visitors and staff. ” he said.

    Gillette added that training is always necessary because it serves as a process for improvement and evaluation to maintain the highest level of continuous readiness.

    Family reunification is key in an emergency situation

    Another issue the exercise tried to address is that of family reunification during a mass casualty event. This, Gillette said, is a major part of the healing and response process. “Family reunification is crucial in a mass casualty incident and the goal of our family reception center is to make every effort to reunite family members with their loved ones,” he said.

    He emphasized that all hospitals need to have a system in place to receive worried family members who might want to know the whereabouts of their loved ones during a mass casualty incident.

    “The worried family members will want to know the whereabouts of their relatives and how they are responding to treatment. There has to be trained staff to provide them with information, emotional support and counselling to reduce their stress levels and reunite them with their loved ones,” Gillette said.

    Lindsey Russell, a member of the medical readiness unit who played the role of a worried well patient, said people come with anxiety to the hospital after a mass casualty event. It’s good to have trained staff on hand to provide people in distress with information on what to do. Russell added the experience gained from the exercise is invaluable. “I’m excited to be part of this exercise in order to be able to prepare to respond to future emergencies in a professional way,” she noted.

    Matthew Sias, DECON program manager in the Department of Emergency Management, said an emergency response requires all hands on deck to have a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each staff member involved . “The exercise demonstrates to the public and our staff that WRNMMC has the capacity to respond to a mass casualty event and can still deliver quality service at any time.”

    He said it also adds to staff knowledge about patients care during stressful moments. “How they receive these patients who are in pain, process and provide them with medical care are all part of the learning and healing process,” he added.

    When staff become patients-they get the real first-hand experience
    The exercise also allowed staff to take on the role of patients in need of urgent medical help. Mathews noted that the exercise also helped the staff (victim actors) become familiar with the experience of being patients in dire need of support after a mass casualty event. “This gave them the firsthand patient experience to know how it feels like to be with injuries and stress seeking medical help, or- being a relative of someone in critical situation admitted at the ER,” he noted.

    Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Leonard Thomas of the Department of Medical Services said the mass casualty exercise is a way of showcasing the hospital’s emergency care preparedness. “It’s about our preparation to respond to real-world events. Since we are located close to a major highway in the Washington DC metro area, it’s good to be ready always. If an emergency occurs, it’s good for us to be able to respond timely and swiftly,” he added.



    Date Taken: 12.13.2021
    Date Posted: 12.20.2021 13:15
    Story ID: 411475
    Location: BETHESDA, MD, US 

    Web Views: 54
    Downloads: 0