UNION — Local emergency response organizations came together to successfully test their response to a major catastrophe in Union County Tuesday morning.
The South Carolina Emergency Management Division held a statewide drill based on the scenario of a hurricane hitting the coast. As part of the drill, the local emergency response organizations in the counties participating in the drill had to develop their own emergency scenarios to test their ability to collaboratively and effectively respond to such a disaster.
In Union County, the scenario developed by the participating agencies was of a tornado spun off from the hurricane touching down at Ellen Sagar Nursing Home resulting in mass casualties.
The exercise got under way at 9 a.m. Tuesday and continued to noon with volunteers playing the part of the victims of the tornado.
Emily Cannon, RN, BSN, and Director of Quality Improvement for Wallace Thomson Hospital, said Tuesday that the 23 volunteers playing the victims included students from Union County High School, Sims Junior High School, and the Brown Mackie College of Nursing.
Cannon said that a total of 75 emergency response and other medical personnel participated in the exercise including the Union County EMS, Union County First Responders, Bonham Fire Department, Kelly-Kelton Fire Department, and the Jonesville Fire Department as well as nurses, physicians and other hospital and nursing home staff.
The participants also included seven members and three vehicles of the Spartanburg County EMS including the Mass Casualty Evacuation Unit which can carry up to 20 patients at a time. Cannon said the majority of the victims in the exercise were transported from Ellen Sagar to the hospital by the evacuation unit.
Cannon said the participants were all pleased with how the exercise turned out.
“We were well pleased with how everyone worked collaboratively and how it all came together,” Cannon said. “We had a debriefing at lunch and got a lot of positive feedback from those involved. We’re real pleased and excited with how it went and we look forward to another exercise in the future.”