Preparation is critical in the event of any emergency, and local organizations take this prep work to heart. On September 12, as a follow up to a recent “table top drill”, the Sanilac County Health Department, McKenzie Health System, Sanilac Medical Care Facility, and Region 3 Healthcare Coalition went through a full drill that simulated a flu epidemic related to H3N2v, something that can be transferred from livestock to humans. Youth from the Sanilac Career Center also helped in this emergency preparedness collaboration. Altogether, about 80 staff and students participated.
“It was incredible to see such a broad and impressive team effort in the face of a potential disaster, and we truly appreciated the student participation in this effort as well,” said Colette Osborne, Safety Committee Chairperson, McKenzie Health System. “While we hope these activities are always just a drill, it is comforting to know that our teams are ready, capable, and efficient when facing emergency situations.”
On September 10, the team learned about the scenario: a community-wide flu epidemic that began spreading during a local event. The team members quickly turned this information into action, simulating what it would be like to test patients, restrict visitors, communicate with the Health Department and assume ongoing command during the epidemic.
The full-scale disaster drill then took place on September 12 from 8 to 11 a.m., including setting up triage, securing the parking lot, canceling regular appointments, checking in with the Health Department, updating available supplies, ordering stretchers and more.
Lessons learned included that McKenzie was well-organized with a lot of communication and staff were able to transition into other roles well. Likewise, all partners in the drill worked well together and found it helpful to plan for a multi-day scenario such as a flu outbreak. Each organization will use information from the drill to consider any possible areas that could be improved on.
Preparing for emergencies, such as a possible flu epidemic event, is critical to public safety. To that end, McKenzie Health System, Sanilac Medical Care Facility, Sanilac County Health Department, and other local community organizations engage in a variety of ongoing staff trainings and exercises to enhance overall preparedness.