That largest exercise in Arizona history wrapped up last weekend, but now the work begins. Vigilant Guard featured a pseudo tropical storm, flooding and a nuclear bomb blast in downtown Phoenix. Arizona cities, counties, state and federal agencies participated in the exercise – testing emergency and evacuation plans, as well plans to transport and prioritize patients. 5,000 participants were working in health care – all 15 county health departments, tribes, 82 hospitals – to name a few. 50 folks from ADHS worked at the Health Emergency Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center. Thanks to all of you who participated and continue working to make sure any gaps we found will be fixed for the future!
Posts Tagged ‘Health Emergency Operation Center’
In less than a month (Nov. 4) thousands of people from a variety of response agencies will be testing their plans and coordinating response efforts for the Vigilant Guard exercise- which will allow us to practice what we would do during a disaster. One of our main tasks will be medical surge management. Medical surge is the influx or surge in people seeking medical care during an emergency or disaster. Hospitals deal with medical surge every year during flu season, but the medical surge one would expect after a catastrophic event poses unique challenges.
During the exercise, staff in our Health Emergency Operation Center will be working with county, tribal, state, and hospital partners to manage medical surge. There are several key things we can do. Through the Hospital Preparedness Program grant, we’ve equipped hospitals and clinics with communications equipment and IT systems. Hospitals can use these systems to communicate with local and state partners during a disaster. These systems are also used to conduct “bed polls”, which let county, state, and federal agencies know how many hospital beds are available across Arizona. Another way we manage medical surge is through licensing waivers, which allow a facility to temporarily increase the number of patients in can serve. Staff from our licensing shop is on hand during exercises and real world responses to assist health care facilities, and issue waivers if necessary.
Another way to manage medical surge is to bring in additional resources such as medical supplies and qualified health care workers. In a disaster situation, staff from our public health emergency preparedness shop would work with federal partners to bring in medical supplies and pharmaceuticals from the Strategic National Stockpile and volunteer health professionals would be brought in through the Arizona Emergency System for the Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (AZ ESAR-VHP) program.
As an aside, the Center for Biosecurity published the Rad Resilient City fallout preparedness checklist, which incorporates federal guidance and technical reports into seven steps that communities can take now to protect themselves from radioactive fallout. Just sayin’… the above document might be a good thing to know in early November.