Drill Tests Hospital Evacuation Systems

On June 8, Shore Health System participated in a drill to test emergency evacuation systems that would be activated if a hurricane hit Dorchester County.

Volunteer “patients” were transferred from the Dorchester General Hospital to the Memorial Hospital at Easton, where they went through the process of being admitted for the appropriate level of care. Volunteers posing as patients from the Behavioral Health Unit were transported to the Eastern Shore Hospital Center.

The exercise scenario included flooding in the first floor and loss of land line and cell phone coverage. Hospital staff, with help from Cambridge fire fighters, carried the volunteers posing as patients from the second floor to the lobby on back boards, stretchers and sliding evacuation chairs.

“During the drill, we activated systems, equipment and staff just as we would if we got news about a major storm heading our way,” says Gary Poole, director of safety and security for Shore Health System. “We practiced evacuating patients from Dorchester General Hospital and responding to a large influx of people needing care in a short period of time at Memorial Hospital.”

Participating in the drill with Shore Health System staff were emergency medical services and health department personnel from Talbot and Dorchester counties; City of Cambridge Fire Department; and law enforcement officers from the City of Cambridge, the Town of Easton and the Maryland State Police. A local group of Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service operators assisted with communication and members of the faith community volunteered for patient roles.

“Everyone worked well together and stayed calm under very difficult circumstances,” says Poole. “People from across Shore Health System stepped up to lend their expertise and our partners in the community made it possible for us to have the resources and manpower required to execute a drill of this magnitude.”

Poole, adds, “We learned a lot that will help us respond if we need to evacuate one of our hospitals during a weather emergency.”