Great Bend Regional Hospital gained 15 beds Thursday afternoon, after volunteers set up a portable “field hospital” on a north parking lot. It will be needed today when a couple of dozen injuries are recorded for a training exercise.
Thursday and today, Barton County hospitals are conducting drills that include mass casualty scenarios, using the South Central Kansas Hospital Preparedness Region’s Field Hospital.
Ten volunteers from the Sedgwick County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) arrived Thursday morning to set up the field hospital. Everything is contained in a metal box that fits on a flatbed trailer, said John Day with Sedgwick County CERT. Nylon walls are stretched over inflatable tubes that serve as the frame. A 4,500-watt generator provides power for medical equipment and heat or air conditioning.
“We have all of the equipment necessary to set up a 15-bed hospital,” Day said.
The volunteers had things up and running in a couple of hours, but in an emergency they could complete the setup in even less time.
Teri Thomas, who serves as GBRH’s Emergency Room director and emergency preparedness coordinator, said staff from GBRH, Ellinwood District Hospital and Clara Barton Hospital in Hoisington spent Thursday morning at the courthouse for a tabletop training session with Barton County Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller and representatives from the County Health Department, Great Bend Fire Department, law enforcement and other entities. The first part of the drill centered on a hypothetical grain elevator explosion.
When multiple agencies are thrown together in a disaster, everyone needs a plan for working together, Thomas said. They discussed how resources would be allocated and how people would be recovered in the scenario that would take place over four days.
But that mock disaster will get several times worse today, and that’s when the hands-on training will begin. In today’s scenario, an airplane with landing gear problems will make a rough landing at the Great Bend Airport, and 23 patients – provided by Great Bend High School drama instructor Dan Heath’s students – will converge on the hospitals.