MISSOULA – St. Patrick Hospital conducted a drill to help prepare staff for mass-casualty events on Saturday after two years of preparation.
The Hospital Emergency Response Team (HERT) is a multidisciplinary team that responds during emergencies.
The team is often the first to make contact with victims after a disaster and at the drill, they were tested on if they knew the proper protocols for a situation where hazardous materials may have been involved.
Before Saturday’s drill, the HERT team took part in the homeland security Center of Domestic Preparedness training.
Physical therapy assistant, Tammy Fegely, said her and other employees were happy to be a part of the process.
“The biggest part of what most healthcare providers want to do is help people. So as soon as my boss had put out a message looking for people who were interested in any hospital emergency response team I felt like it was something that I had a calling to,” Fegely said.
The drill used 30-to-40 volunteers to play the part of the victims including Erik Bratlien, the husband of an employee participating in the drill.
“Hospitals and first responders need to be ready for stuff and so anytime I can help do something like this I’m more than happy to be basically a test dummy,” said Bratlien. “I know this is a test but it still a little unnerving I couldn’t imagine it would be like if it was real.”
Each of the characters they played was different in age and level of mobility and all would require full-scale decontamination and treatment at the hospital.
“We are set up to protect our community from hazardous materials, mass-casualty incidents, so we can treat them and stay open as a hospital,” said St. Patrick Hospital Safety, Security and Management Director Shawn Paul.
-Lauren Heiser reporting for MTN News