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SCKMC Participates in Statewide Tornado Drill

March 4th, 2014

(Cowley County, Kansas): Tornadoes are part of the package when you live in Kansas. As such, emergency management from across the state prepare for the worst each spring during severe weather awareness week. One of the events held during severe weather awareness week is the statewide tornado drill. The drill was held on Tuesday and included activating the City's tornado sirens.

(Cowley County, Kansas): Tornadoes are part of the package when you live in Kansas. As such, emergency management from across the state prepare for the worst each spring during severe weather awareness week. One of the events held during severe weather awareness week is the statewide tornado drill. The drill was held on Tuesday and included activating the City's tornado sirens.

South Central Kansas Medical Center participated in the drill by acting out a safe area evacuation using volunteers as patients. Volunteers portrayed a variety of patients including an obstetrical patient in active labor, and a patient requiring isolation precautions.

"The use of volunteer patients is so important for an effective drill," said Steve Perkins, SCKMC's CEO. "The ability to have a live person that can interact with the staff adds a level of realism that you cannot achieve during a tabletop drill."

The medical center's severe weather policy calls for all patients, visitors, and staff to relocate to the post-operative area within the facility's surgery department if a direct hit by a tornado appears imminent. The decision to relocate patients is carefully coordinated by the onsite incident commander who receives information from State and local emergency management.

"Communication is essential during any type of disaster. We must be able to receive and dispense information quickly in order to protect our patients and staff," Perkins said.

The hospital's drill lasted approximately 45 minutes but it has been planned for weeks. Joanne Holman, Education Coordinator, and Scott Stevens, Safety Officer were two of leads on planning the drill.

Holman believes that the quick transport of patients was the highlight of the drill.

"We are concerned about our patients and getting them to a safe spot is what we do best. Everybody wanted to get those patients to safety. The actual experience of moving the patients, and having the input from our volunteers that helped, will make us even better with our next drill," Holman said.

While both Holman and Stevens stated that they felt the drill was success, neither feel their job is complete.

"We have a few issues that we need to resolve in the next drill, but as of right now I think we did real well. We need constant improvement to be ready in case we do have a disaster strike," Stevens said.

(Pictured): Susan Bartlett comforts volunteer "patient" Gloria Hull during South Central Kansas Medical Center's tornado drill.

(Pictured): Susan Bartlett comforts volunteer "patient" Gloria Hull during South Central Kansas Medical Center's tornado drill.