Utah Practices Healthcare Response with 1 Million Participants and Massive Casualty Simulation

simulation of earthquake response

Deseret News recently reported about a massive earthquake simulation for Utah response agencies. Almost one million people participated in this simulated event across the state last week at schools, hospitals, civil service departments, and more. What an amazing demonstration to the expanded acceptance of simulation as a primary training method!

Deseret News Article Excerpt:

Link and Hansen were among the nearly 1 million Utahns who participated in the state’s largest earthquake drill to date Thursday, the Great Utah ShakeOut. The statewide drill began at 10:15 a.m. The scenario: The worst natural disaster to ever hit the Salt Lake Valley had struck — a magnitude 7 earthquake.

In reality, the Wasatch Front fault line remained docile, as it has for thousands of years, but still more than 980,000 ducked under desks and chairs to wait for the fictional tremors to subside.


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Hospitals, schools, businesses, government offices and others all joined in on the annual drill because of the devastation a major earthquake could have on Utah’s residents, economy and infrastructure. At St. Mark’s, the pretend community casualties were reported at more than 2,000 dead and more than 30,000 injured, said hospital spokeswoman Danielle Wilcox.

To add to the carnage, St. Mark’s simulated the collapse of its west tower, using a utility tunnel under the hospital to challenge search and rescue teams with a dark, enclosed and complicated environment — like a collapsed building — to navigate while trying to find trapped and injured patients. Like Link, other actors pretended to be trapped in rubble. Some needed limb amputations. In other instances, rescuers, guided by K-9 teams, needed to break through concrete walls to reach victims. Outside the hospital, several medical triage tents were set up to treat about 60 acting patients.

Rescue teams also simulated a helicopter crash atop the hospital. Paul VanHarn from the Unified Fire Authority got to practice rappelling the pretend crash victim, David Polonsky, safely to the ground. “When we have an opportunity like this, it’s great for us,” said Unified Fire Authority Capt. Dan Brown. “This training is about as realistic as it can get.”

More than 500 people — including nursing students, hospital staff and volunteers from Urban Search and Rescue, Unified Fire Authority, Unified Police Department and the Utah Health Department — participated in St. Mark’s simulation, said John Jones, emergency preparedness coordinator for MountainStar Healthcare.”

Read the full article on Deseret News!


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