LIMA — An evacuation drill conducted Monday morning at Lima Memorial Health System to prepare hospital staff and first responders for a major crisis took about an hour to complete.
It was the first real-time evacuation to take place in Northwest Ohio, according to the hospital, and involved many organizations, including the Allen County Health Department, the Allen County Emergency Management Agency, local fire departments and law enforcement.
“It’s running better than expected,” said Steve Mericle, Lima Memorial’s director of emergency management. He was overseeing the drill from a mobile police and fire command center parked outside the hospital. “In 45 minutes, we’ve got two-thirds [of patients] out.”
The fictional incident that prompted the evacuation was the crash of a medical transport helicopter into the front of the hospital building. The drill simulated the evacuation of four of the hospital’s floors, including its Intensive Care Unit, and tested how hospital staff worked with firefighters and police officers.
On the seventh floor, Apollo Career Center health care students, playing the role of patients, sat on beds waiting to be evaluated by Lima Memorial staff and local emergency medical technicians.
“They’re trying to prioritize which floors get evacuated first,” said Kathy Silvestri, regional health care system coordinator with the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio in Toledo. “Even with each floor, patients need to be triaged and prioritized. Can they walk? Do you need to take them in a chair? Or as you can see, by Evacusled.”
As she spoke, Apollo student Austin Pogue, 17, scooted past, pulled along the floor in the bright yellow plastic sled by two Lima Memorial staff members. Pogue was playing the part of a critical care patient who has just had surgery for a broken leg. His helpers slid him down two flights of stairs to a lower floor.
Asked if it was an easy ride, Pogue quipped, “I wouldn’t say so.”
From the hospital, Pogue and other “patients” were taken by ambulance to a nearby church, Forest Park Methodist Church. The church’s rec room was set up as an “alternate care facility,” a holding area where evacuated patients were looked after while waiting for placement in other hospitals.
In a statement following the drill, Lima Memorial said its officials “were pleased with the immediate outcome of the exercise and are looking forward to working through an after-action plan over the next several months.”
Reach Amy Eddings at 567-242-0379 or Twitter, @lima_eddings.