What does a hospital do when the Big One hits?

October 29, 2015

Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance is staging a full-scale, true-to-life emergency drill Thursday morning – the scenario is a 6.9 earthquake.

More than 100 students from El Camino Community College and Madrona Middle School will be rushed to the hospital with “injuries,” made to look real thanks to theatrical make-up. They will undergo the full triage process, with Emergency Department physicians and nurses evaluating the nature of injuries and treating by priority.

The hospital is partnering with first responders and several other agencies with the goal of preparing for a real disaster. As part of the drill, Providence social media team will share the events of the day and offer usable tips for a real disaster. Follow the hashtag #CAQuakeDrill for resources on how to prepare for disaster and what to do when the ground stops shaking.

Providence, with six hospitals across the Los Angeles Area, holds regular drills to ensure every detail is addressed in case of a natural or man-made emergency. And with a 99 percent chance of a major earthquake in the next 2½ years in our area, planning is crucial.

In Thursday’s drill, which starts at 8 a.m., the hospital must prepare for 50 patients, some critical, in just 15 minutes, and continue through the day to treat many more. "15 Minutes until 50 Patients" is an award-winning concept created by Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center and shared by other hospitals to rapidly deploy staff, supplies and equipment.

Every department throughout the hospital will send a representative to the command center to report on issues and concerns – managing the safety of existing patients, assessing damage to the hospital, reuniting families and obtaining extra resources to remain open to serve the community, for example. Skill and creativity are tested with mock problems that require quick, creative and effective solutions to ensure operations continue.

Partnering in this exercise are the Torrance Police Department, Torrance Fire Department, Torrance Office of Emergency Services, American Red Cross, Medical Alert Center, El Camino College, Madrona Middle School, Constant & Associates, McCormick Westmed Ambulance Company, Liberty Ambulance Company and the Redondo Beach Fire Department.