Throughout the planning process for the new Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, a team concentrated on making sure that the new facility would be ready to respond to any type of emergency situation within the community at a moments notice. Those plans were put to the test on Monday, May 24, when word reached the staff about the explosion at Alliant Technical Systems (ATK).
"Once we heard that there had been an incident at ATK, we took an assessment of the number of staff in the Emergency Department and in other key areas, which is the first step in our emergency preparedness plan, explained Jo Wilson, Vice President for Ancillary Support Operations. "We were setting our plan in motion by the time the situation was verified by local emergency management officials. Our initial objective is to be fully prepared to care for an undetermined amount of patients with personal injuries, and the tremendous response from our employees and physicians had us ready to meet the challenge.
The staff in the Emergency Department was able to quickly move patients who needed to be admitted to nursing units and discharge others as appropriate in order to make room for possible incoming patients. Employees from other areas in the health system also responded rapidly with additional supplies and equipment that would be needed in the event of a large influx of patients. Based on the nature of the incident, the team that assists with decontamination of hazardous materials was in place.
Staff already in the hospital were ready to stay as long as they were needed. Physicians and other critical staff who were not in the hospital at the time were on their way to the campus to provide assistance. Fortunately, there were only minimal personal injuries at the site and just one patient was transported to WMHS for treatment. Normal operations were able to resume within a short amount of time.
Luckily, our emergency preparedness efforts served as a test this time, continued Wilson. "This situation gave us the opportunity to assess our overall readiness plan, which worked like a well oiled machine. Thanks to our staff, we are ready to care for area residents immediately when an emergency situation occurs in the community.