Hospitals prepare year-round for disasters

GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - Emergency responders from across the capital region sprang into action after Thursday's explosion.

Staff members at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales, it's the kind of disaster they prep for year round.

Less than thirty minutes after the explosion at the Williams plant in Geismar, the staff at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Gonzales had already said their prayers and got in place to treat the 36 injured workers that would soon arrive

"We have plans in place for events like this, and these plans are very specific to different disasters if you will. We have plans for hurricanes, we have plans for tornadoes, we have plans for mass casualties, we have plans for chemical spills," said Jon Hirsch, St. Elizabeth Hospital marketing director.

He says each plan has very specific instructions for every person on their staff. They do at least two drills each year - one using actual people as their would-be patients to make sure everyone knows exactly where to go if and when disaster strikes.

For Chris Trevino and the emergency room staff, the first thing they have to do is evaluate the condition of patients they have, and move them other parts of the hospital to make room a possible influx of emergency cases.

"The hardest part of yesterday was dealing with the unknowns, which it usually is the hardest part of any disaster. But the concern yesterday was whether or not there was going to be any chemical issues and decontamination was going to be necessary," said Trevino. "We certainly cannot contaminate the emergency department because then it's shut down to those patients and any other patient in the community."

Whether drill or an actual disaster, like the plant explosion, Hirsch says there is even a plan in place to prepare for the next one.

"We feel like we did a very good job and we responded very well to the patients that we received. Did we do everything perfectly? Probably not, but there's always something that you can do better on. And we're going to look at that and use that to improve as we go forward," said Hirsch.

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