Naval Hospital conducts patient evacuation drill

6 Jun 2013 | Lance Cpl. Joshua W. Grant

Six wards and more than 50 staff participated in the first patient evacuation drill at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune May 22.

This was the first evacuation drill for the hospital and included cooperation from the local facilities and the fire department aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. To create a sense of realism, colored strobe lights were placed in the galley of the hospital and the fire alarm was pulled to signal a fire.

The fire department responded accordingly and as part of the drill, hoses were run through the halls of the hospital and attached to water access points to test the system for serviceability.

Mark Starnes, emergency manager for NHCL, stated around a year ago a plan was in place for evacuations, but one had not been created for inpatient care wards like the intensive care unit or the operating rooms.

“It could be a fire, tornado or hurricane. We had to look at what to do for evacuations,” said Starnes. “The hospital needed to become one cohesive unit during an evacuation.”

Navy Capt. Stacy Pearson, director of nursing services for NHCL, stated the evacuation went exceedingly well. “One of the evacuation observers said it was one of the most cohesive drills they had seen the staff involved in,” said Pearson.

The acting casualties for the drill were ranked on a triage level before leaving the ward they were in. Colored bands of green, yellow and red were tied to the arms of the casualties to easily distinguish required care levels that would be needed in a real emergency.

“The staff got to use equipment they would likely never use, but in the case of an emergency they would need to be familiar with it,” said Pearson.

Navy Lt. Stacey Chang, nurse on duty for the hospital, said this gives the staff a really good idea of what to expect, things to think about and what to do if an emergency does happen.

The evacuation was practice and the wounds were fake, but for the staff of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune the knowledge learned during the drill is much needed in case a real emergency ever strikes.