Central and West Central Spring 2017 Exercise

Central and West Central Health Care Preparedness Coalition Completes Another Successful Functional Exercise

On May 24th and 25th, 2017 both the West Central and Central Health Care Preparedness Coalitions participated in a Severe Weather Functional Exercise to create an opportunity for facilities to practice evacuation or an influx/surge of patients.  As the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) increased their guidelines for participation in functional emergency preparedness exercises the coalitions had a great opportunity to open this exercise up to Long Term Care, Clinics, Homecare, and Hospice organizations.  With this increased participation, the exercise design became unique in trying to create interagency, interactive injects.  An aspect of this interactive inject was the use of Simulation Deck, which is an emergency management social media software program that allows groups to create unscheduled and scheduled social media postings.  It was a great learning experience seeing how social media can play a role during any disaster by creating avenues of sharing information or deescalating public relation nightmares.  Some organizations used it to disperse how families can look for loved ones.

Lessons learned:

  • All participants

o   Regional method of tracking and prioritization when Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are down.

o   Enhance existing evacuation plans to include a more robust transportation plan.

o   Have key staff prepared for social media management and continued training.

o   To have prepared action plans for specific emergency crisis allowing for appropriate assignment of incident command staff positions creating appropriate training.

o   Using community resources (i.e. churches, restaurants, etc.) will support any facility during a disaster.

o   Identified that a focus should be better placed on how to identify and work with at-risk populations.

  • Hospitals

o   Additional internal training on 800Mhz radios to staff that could potentially need to use the radios during the disaster.

o   Facility emergency managers (EM) should place others in facilitator/controller position allowing for EM’s to train and guide command center participants during exercise.

  • Long Term Care (LTC)

o   Provide LTC with appropriate access to MNTrac and training of MNTrac to support region patient tracking and movement.

o   Found that patient transfer paperwork including patient equipment needs helped to provide appropriate focus on at-risk population.

This exercise was a great success with many strengths and opportunities noted for future development.  Due to the change in CMS Emergency Preparedness guidelines, the coalitions will continue to provide exercises to ALL health care organizations.  If you are one of those organizations looking for support in emergency preparedness and being a part of comprehensive functional exercise you have found the place.  Any organization can register and join the website or contact us through the link in the top right hand corner of the website. www.cwchealthcarecoalitions.org