THE NEW JERSEY EMS TASK FORCE AND HUNTERDON MEDICAL CENTER STAGE THREE-DAY, FULL-SCALE EMERGENCY EVACUATION EXERCISERead Now
The event, called Empty House Exercise, was a collaboration between the New Jersey EMS Task Force, officials at Hunterdon Health, Hunterdon County, Department of Public Safety, Office of Emergency Management, and the Raritan Township Office of Emergency Management. The drill involved more than 100 EMS providers, staff from Hunterdon Medical Center, specialized emergency response equipment from around the state, and 50 community volunteers who served as patients. The exercise was designed to test the partners’ abilities to evacuate 100 patients to other area hospitals safely.
“The New Jersey EMS Task Force created the statewide plan for hospital evacuations, and it is critical for us to work together with our healthcare partners to test the systems regularly,” said Mike Bascom, state leader/non-profit chairman of the NJ EMS Task Force. “Each exercise provides important learning experiences for our team, hospital staff, and local OEM and law enforcement agencies. We found some systems worked perfectly and learned through this experience what we need to improve on going forward. That’s why we conduct these exercises. There was a lot of great work done by our team. Overall, it was a great test.”
The exercise included the NJ EMS Task Force setting up a fully sustainable basecamp on the grounds of the Hunterdon Medical Center on Oct. 20, including 13 tents for housing, dining, medical, communications, and more. On Oct. 21, working with hospital staff, EMS providers moved 100 “patients” played by community volunteers to local facilities.
“This exercise was a great opportunity for the Hunterdon Medical Center to test our internal evacuation plan. This drill also allowed us to partner with our State and local first responders in a proactive way to be sure we are mutually prepared for a collaborative emergency response. We appreciate the tremendous planning involved in executing this massive exercise at Hunterdon Medical Center. It was a great experience for all involved,” stated Kristy Alfano, MSN, RN, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Hunterdon Medical Center.