We may be nearly two years into the coronavirus pandemic, but teams across Valley are ensuring they’re ready in the event another disaster strikes through periodic emergency preparedness exercises. “It is incredibly important for our staff to be trained in emergency response in all situations, so we can take care of our community like family when they need us the most—in a disaster. Aside from the usual fire drills everyone is familiar with, we plan other disaster drills based on the hazards we are most likely to face,” said Deborah Hunt, Valley’s Emergency Preparedness Manager.
Recently, the Perioperative Services department held a series of earthquake drills to assess and improve their ability to respond to a disaster. The earthshaking mock scenario was devised so the team could: evaluate patients and staff for injury; appraise the environment for hazards; identify the most immediate needs for the next 2-4 hours to continue to provide safe patient care; test new equipment and rapid assessment forms; and report out via Valley’s Incident Command structure, which oversees operations organization-wide during disaster events.
As with all drills, there were successes and lessons learned. Unit leadership, as well as Valley’s emergency preparedness and safety teams will incorporate staff feedback into operational plans for future drills and procedures in the event of an actual emergency. The staff’s post-drill comments reinforce the importance of practicing these rarely-used skills to advance confidence, experience and readiness:
“This gave us the opportunity to test and improve our process in real time. We were able to see our strengths and weaknesses.” – Arlene Sera, RN, admit/discharge nurse
“This was Perioperative Services first disaster drill. It wasn’t perfect, but we all learned a lot. The whole team was incredible—excited to participate and ready to learn. We look forward to building on this experience next year.” – Stephanie Lilje, Director of Perioperative Services
“We found this exercise more valuable than prior drills that were more operating room-focused. We intentionally ran three back-to-back drills (in different areas of the unit). This allowed more focus on each area’s needs and layout, and facilitated opportunity for feedback. We loved the team engagement—very positively received as an investment in them!” – Wendy La Cava, Director, Perianesthesia Services