BETHESDA – Thirteen hospitals and over 80 federal, state and local agencies in the Maryland-D.C. area were put to the test in a full-scale disaster drill Wednesday. The drill, Capital Shield 2012, was aimed at testing the region’s response to a mass casualty terrorist attack.
“This is a great opportunity for our paramedics, our EMTs, our firefighters to be able to practice patient triage assessment and transport but also for our hospitals to be able to receive a large amount of patients at any one given time,” Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Graham said.
The test began at the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Training Academy in Rockville where more than 50 mock victims were diagnosed on scene by first responders testing out a new tracking system.
The system, named the Real Time Locating System, is similar to a package or mail tracking system but instead tracks patients by their triage tag. The tag, which has information about the patient and their injuries, also has a barcode. First responders are equipped with hand-held devices to scan the barcode.
“The barcode allows us to match a name with the patient, a destination of the patient and the injuries that we observe in the field and that tag continues on with the patient through the patients experience through transport to the hospital,” said Graham.
The thirteen hospitals in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Charles County counties that participated in the drill were then sent the incoming patients’ information to laptop command centers to ensure victims were treated as efficiently as possible and were not mis-routed or forgotten.
During the drill, Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, which is one of the first hospitals in the US to have a military-federal-civilian hospital partnership, also received mock patients via military helicopter transport.
Cindy Notobartolo, Director of Emergency/Trauma, Safety & Security at Suburban stressed the importance of these drills. “We are considered part of the first receiver first responder networks so we have to be ready and we have to be here for our community.”