Disaster prep plans are on the minds of emergency management teams around the country with flooding disasters and wildfire incidence on the rise. For one area of Washington state, the potential for chaos is mitigated by an elaborate medical response network.
Called the Northwest HealthCare Response Network, the goal is to be several steps ahead in disaster prep plans. The network relies on a coordination of regional hospitals in Seattle to keep them running with supplies, generators, fuel and personnel.
All hospitals will receive patients and provide aid outside of their specialities, and will be equipped to do so through the network, with standard hospitals taking pediatric patients.
Seattle Children’s becomes a hospital like any other hospital so we would be having people come to us by ambulance, which would most likely be children, but we would also have people just walking off the street or being delivered by their family members, and we would just take whoever came in the door,” Margot Kravette, manager of emergency preparedness at Seattle Children’s, said in an interview with KING5.
The plan also provides enough generators and fuel to last for several days without power.
The radio room at Harborview Medical Center, a level one trauma center in Seattle, will be transformed into the Disaster Medical Control Center (DMCC), and will serve as the hub of the network during a disaster situation. The DMCC can be used to:
- Communicate with first responders
- Direct patients to specific hospitals
- Coordinate with medical professionals in the field from one central location
In addition to organizing communication and stockpiling supplies, the network also accounts for the needs of medical and hospital personnel. Those working in network hospitals will stay on and continue to work, aiding victims as they come in. The network plans to provide meals, phone chargers and lines of communication back to their families during the disaster duration, but the plan places an emphasis on keeping area hospitals fully staffed.
The network plan places the Seattle area several steps ahead in the event of a major emergency, a must for disaster prep plans.