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KCH, Kohala Hospital Participate in RIMPAC Disaster Response Exercise

July 15, 2022, 8:40 AM HST
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Kona Community Hospital and Kohala Hospital practiced their disaster response during the 28th Rim of the Pacific exercise.

On Thursday, July 15, both hospitals played a role in the Hawai‘i Healthcare Emergency Management, or HHEM, portion of the biennial drill. The objectives of the exercise included managing a real-world disaster during an influx of patients into the emergency department, and training employees about the disaster management process.

The scenario presented a mass casualty influx of patients to KCH resulting from a collapsed hotel during a hurricane. The scenario involved 14 victims, including children. The victims’ levels of severity ranged from minor injuries to full traumas.

According to a KCH press release, the hospital performed a mock “Code Triage” at 7 a.m., which activated the event. The hospital’s Incident Command Center was established by Renee Shove, RN, Director of Patient Care Services.

Hospital personnel immediately assessed the hospital’s real-time status, reporting on bed capacity, labor availability, and medical, pharmaceutical and dietary supplies, to name a few.

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Drill participants included staff from most departments, including hospital leadership, members of the emergency department, a multidisciplinary triage team, hospital nursing units, and the KCH security department.

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Fourteen volunteer casualty actors/victims were assigned varying levels of injuries. Special effects makeup, called moulage, was applied to simulate real wounds and injuries. The victims were assessed by the KCH triage team and surged into the emergency department in order of the acuity level of their simulated injuries.

Kohala Hospital’s primary objective during the exercise was to support KCH in patient management. Staff at KH coordinated with KCH to transfer less acute patients from KCH to alleviate an overflow of patients due to the influx of emergency patients. The team also conducted tabletop disaster management training during the drill.

After the event, a debriefing was conducted to discuss the exercise’s findings and evaluate areas that might need more work in the future.

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“The purpose of this exercise was to push the limits and test our capabilities to manage a large mass casualty scenario,” said Shove. “We also value the opportunity the drill presented to practice large-scale emergency preparedness with our exercise partners at HHEM.”

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