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NVRH, Community Partners Conduct Emergency Evacuation Drill

Monday, December 3, 2018

NVRH conducted a Full Scale Exercise (FSE) on November 28 to evaluate their Code White (evacuation) response, which is in place to ensure the safety of people inside the hospital during an emergency. 

Together with CALEX Ambulance Service, St. Johnsbury Fire Department, Caledonia County Sheriff Department, Northern Counties Health Care, Medical Reserve Corp and Caledonian Home Health, the NVRH Exercise Plan (ExPlan) provided all participants the necessary tools for their roles during an evacuation. The exercise emphasized the ability of NVRH to work with its community partners to effectively evacuate patients and track their movement and location during an emergency evacuation.

The FSE was coordinated by Roger Leroux, NVRH RN and Emergency Department/Hospital Preparedness Coordinator, who implemented and led the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

“Overall, the exercise went extremely well with participants performing their tasks with speed and professionalism. Training exercises allow us to do gap analyses on our policies and procedures identifying potential improvements,” said Leroux.  “Our evaluators were from the Vermont Dept. of Health and NVDA. They will individually complete the exercise evaluation guide rating our ability to achieve objectives and benchmarks during the drill.”

The plausible emergency scenario that was presented involved a transformer fire, which the fire department deemed resolved; however, it caused power outages. Generator power could not be provided to the second floor Med/Surg unit and fire damage left elevators inoperable.  Med/Surg nurses were given this scenario without any prior knowledge and had to make critical decisions on how to safely evacuate patients with a variety of medical challenges.  They worked  with the participating partners in the evacuation drill. An Incident Command Center was set up to communicate to all parties involved, both internally and externally. Volunteers and staff from NVRH and other participating organizations acted as patients, facilitators, controllers, evaluators, support staff and observers. Signage was in place throughout the hospital to notify visitors and staff that a drill was in progress.

“With experience in local, state and federal operations centers, I can honestly say that NVRH has clearly worked hard on building a plan that brings people at all levels together to perform to the highest degree,” said Jon Bouffard, Fire Chief/EMD, Town Health Officer, St. Johnsbury Fire Department. “All agencies and staff involved worked well together, bringing a high-quality solution to an adverse situation. The St. Johnsbury Fire Department looks forward to working closely with NVRH in their endeavor to perfect their emergency preparedness plan.”

The two and a half-hour exercise began with a participant check-in for final instructions and an exercise briefing and rules review meeting.  Once the exercise was completed, there was a de-briefing to allow for feedback, discussion and evaluation of the exercise. All of this information will be compiled into the After-Action Report (AAR), which will be used for improving systems, plans and training.

“This was a terrific opportunity for our crews to work side by side with our hospital partners and other agencies to safely drill on evacuation response. I had the opportunity to work in the hospital EOC, which was very well organized and everyone performed their assigned tasks,” said Michael Wright, CEO/Chief, CALEX Ambulance. “We worked very well together as a team. We also had the opportunity to learn a new patient tracking system, which seemed to be very beneficial if this was ever a real event. CALEX works extremely closely with NVRH making sure we provide them with the necessary resources if an emergency situation like this should ever occur.”


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