'Code Blue': Hospital does the drill

Most of the people who needed to hear the “Code Blue” announced over the hospital PA system on Wednesday didn’t.

Fortunately, it was just a drill.

Administrators and staff at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital had been planning the drill — which involved a simulated bomb threat — for weeks. Twelve volunteers acted as patients, and doctors, nurses and administrative personnel worked during the course of a half-hour to evacuate them from a wing of the hospital while engineers searched for the “bomb.”

“I have to see if I have to faint or anything,” said volunteer Shirley Ekker as she glanced at the card she wore around her neck. Each “patient” had a list of symptoms they were to display so the simulation would be as real as possible. The patient actors were stationed in several areas of the hospital’s second floor, including the Intensive Care Unit, the dialysis center and the family birth center.

The goal was to evacuate everyone “laterally,” with the assumption that elevators and stairs in the wing would not be useable.

Patient actors on beds and in wheelchairs were whisked through hallways to an elevator in another wing. Those who were ambulatory were walked to another wing where they were led down staircases. Drill participants were instructed to gather in the parking lot on the east side of the hospital while organizers checked to make sure everyone was out.

“Overall, the drill was a success,” said Jane Burke, emergency department nurse manager and one of the coordinators of the drill. “We were able to pretty quickly get all the patients off the floor.” She said the problems with the PA system “weren’t too surprising.”

“We know we’ve had some problems with it,” she said. The current system has only one volume control for all functions. For that reason, a new PA system has been ordered and will be installed at the hospital next month.

Burke also said there were a couple of the emergency plans that “needed some clarification.”

The volunteer patients filled out questionnaires after the drill. “(They) had some good input from the patients’ perspective,” Burke said.

Their feedback, as well as input from hospital personnel — several of whom observed the drill from various staging points around the hospital — will be incorporated into future emergency response plans.

The hospital is mandated to have two major drills annually, taking place at least four months apart, according to Burke. Drills are staged to simulate various disaster scenarios, from bomb threats to bioterrorism.

Every other year, PHRMH participates in a “mass casualty” drill as a collaborative effort between Hood River and Skamania counties. That drill is planned for next fall.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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