Approximately 300 volunteers participated in a USC earthquake drill held on the Health Sciences campus on Oct. 15. Coordinated by USC Fire Safety and Emergency Planning, the drill was part of a statewide emergency preparedness initiative called the Great California ShakeOut.
At 10:15 a.m., faculty, staff and students were encouraged to drop, cover and hold on to simulate response to an actual earthquake. On the Harry and Celeste Papas Quad at the Health Sciences campus, response and rescue team volunteers gathered to activate the university’s disaster medical response plan.
Adding an element of grim realism were 35 volunteer victims, who were made up with faux injuries ranging from bumps and bruises to amputated hands and feet or objects protruding from their bodies. Twenty-three of the volunteers were from nearby Bravo Medical Magnet High School and 12 were Health Sciences staffers.
Members of the USC Community Emergency Response Team searched three buildings for victims and damage. In the event of a major disaster, the team is a multifunctional volunteer response group that acts as an adjunct to existing emergency response service departments at the university.
Health care workers and other volunteers triaged and treated the 35 victims on the quad.
“I think the drill went smoothly and improved over last year,” said volunteer Carol Parker, a special project manager from the USC School of Dentistry. “What I learn here, no matter where I am, it will be useful.”
Overall, the drill was a success, according to Steve Goldfarb, fire safety and emergency planning specialist with USC Career and Protective Services. He credited the addition of a new USC amateur radio group with helping keep the lines of communication open.
“This may be the first time in the history of our drills that we can honestly say communication went well,” he said. “The amateur radio group was the thread that pulled things together.”
Goldfarb noted that USC will participate in the Great California ShakeOut annually. The next ShakeOut is scheduled to take place on Oct. 21, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
The drill was covered by 15 news media outlets, including KABC-TV, KTLA-TV, Associated Press, KRCA Channel 62, the Daily Trojan and Trojan Vision.
At USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, approximately 50 members of hospital leadership participated in separate emergency management drills with the CommandAware hospital event management system. This system allows hospital management to communicate needs both inside the hospital and with other outside hospitals, as well as coordinate emergency response quickly and facilitate post-emergency action reports.
“This is a new software that automates all communication and requests for assistance during a disaster,” said Pedro Ayala, hospital safety disaster officer for USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “Hospital personnel can log into the system after a disaster and let the situation commander know about problems throughout the hospital.”
In the event that a disaster occurs after hours, hospital staff can log in to the system remotely. Hospital leadership then can communicate with staff members at the location and manage the early stage response in the event they are unable to get to the hospital.
“Prior to this software being in place, all our preparedness drills were done with paper and pencil,” Ayala said. “If there is a power outage so that we cannot use the system, we’ll go back to that paper and pencil.”
The software system also facilitates ongoing emergency response planning. “We can load our emergency plan onto the system, prepare annual reviews and set specific needs for mitigation planning,” said Ayala.
The CommandAware system is supported through a County of Los Angeles grant program for hospital emergency preparedness.
For photos from the drill, visit www.usc.edu/hsc/info/pr/ShakeOut09/ShakeOut09.html
For video of the drill, visit http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=7067217
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