Dobbins hosts National Disaster Medical System exercise
By Master Sgt. P.N. Brown, 94th Airlift Wing
/ Published July 19, 2006
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. --
As hurricane season began this year, the National Disaster Medical System sprang into action. In preparation of what the National Weather Service has predicted to be a difficult season, the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center conducted a full-scale exercise at Dobbins in June.
Wanting to offer more prepared assistance the exercise was a full dress rehearsal of what could happen in the event of another season like last year.
A practice of deplaning, triaging and tracking as many as 100 patients, agencies from the Georgia State Defense Force, Cobb County Public Health, Douglas County Public Health, Centers for Disease Control, American Red Cross, Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, local hospitals and units from around Dobbins got first-hand training on what it was like to handle a hurricane disaster.
Just like when the NDMS sets up for the real-world disaster, this mock exercise followed suit. Everyone was in place ready for action when the 100 patients mock landed at Dobbins on the runway nearest the fuel cell hangar.
The seasoned group of players sprang into action as they made their way to the first of the scripted patients. Some of the patients even offered a few surprises for the teams to handle.
One patient offered a glimpse at what it was like to handle mental illness in an emergency situation. Other patients had life threatening illnesses, needed shelter only or were ambulatory. The varied needs of the mock patients helped to offer well -rounded training to the trainees.
The Atlanta VA Medical Center is the Federal Coordinating Center for the metro-Atlanta area, making it the manager for the NDMS. This makes them responsible for patient reception for any incoming disaster victims from other communities. The VA handled nearly 1,500 evacuees in response to last years Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Lots of planning went into the exercise allowing the participating agencies to work out any concerns and better handle any issues that could arise. It’s this type of training that helps to cut out guess work on real world situations.
According to an echoed response from several team players, this was some of the best training they could have gotten to prepare for this year’s hurricane season.