County officials participated in a statewide disaster drill yesterday to test state medical facilities’ response to the possibility of a terrorist attack.
The county scenario simulated the detonation of two false Improvised Explosive Devices in Santa Ynez between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., resulting in 36 mock deaths and about 100 mock injuries. According to a press release from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Dept., 27 county agencies took part in the exercise, including hospitals, sheriff and fire departments, coroners and UCSB.
Susan Klein-Rothschild, Assistant Deputy Director in the Community Health Division of the Public Health Dept., said the event involved multiple organizations to accurately replicate a county-wide crisis.
“The scenario is very effective at simulating a real threat with more than 80 victims involved,” Klein-Rothschild said. “Each hospital in the county will experience some aspect of this drill along with fire departments, sheriff departments, coroners and other health care partners including the Public Health Dept.”
Klein-Rothschild also said the drill helps medical facilities create a network system and increase their efficiency.
“The overall purpose of the exercise is to prepare county agencies and increase their capacity to work together in a real incident,” Klein-Rothschild said. “Agencies will learn how to communicate, how to provide resource support and how to respond to a mass facility testing. We are all playing a role and each agency is participating in this drill to learn how well the system responds to a real threat.”
Kyle Fleher, Emergency Preparedness Planner of Logistics for the Public Health Dept., said the IED scenario also assesses the abilities of medical facilities to cater to a sudden upsurge in patients.
“The drill was intended to stress hospitals statewide and determine their ability to absorb patients,” Fleher said. “An important part of the scenario involved deciding where patients could be transferred.”
Fleher said the agencies involved in the drill demonstrated adequate responsiveness and effective use of county resources.
Campus facilities were also involved in the drill.
According to Jim Caesar, Emergency Preparedness Manager for UCSB, the university’s Dept. of Health and Safety provided management assistance for hospitals filled to capacity with mock casualty victims.
“As a part of the drill the hospitals were overrun with patients with 36 presumed dead on first blast,” Caesar said. “The emergency preparedness office helped to deal with the overwhelming number of patients by partnering with the Public Health Dept., so if something did happen, we would be familiar with each other.”
Caesar said the simulated terrorist attack allowed medical facilities to use their emergency statewide “Ready Net” system to coordinate interactions between hospitals and manage limited resources efficiently.