Disaster Medicine Providers Prepared for the Worst

May 3, 2013

In the wake of tragedy, questions remain. One question Pullman Regional Hospital, Pullman Fire Department and their partners in disaster medicine work tirelessly to prepare for is: What if?

In your community, significant time, effort and resources are devoted to training for the worst case medical emergencies - from multiple casualty incidents and active shooter scenarios to hazardous materials release.

On a regular basis PRH, PFD, Pullman Police, Washington State University Police and Emergency Management, the Whitman County Local Emergency Planning Committee, city and county government officials, Whitman County Sheriff's Office, Whitcom dispatch, the health department, Latah Search and Rescue, the Region 9 Health Care Coalition and others meet and train for emergency preparedness.

Disaster medicine is a specialized field in the scope of emergency medicine. Pullman Fire
Department's highly skilled and dedicated EMTs and paramedics receive rigorous training on a regular basis. The department members are highly motivated, dedicated, trained and possess a high level of skill and professionalism in serving the residents of Pullman.

Pullman Regional Hospital's Emergency Department is staffed by expert nurses with extensive training and experience and board certified/eligible emergency medicine physicians. As director of Emergency Services at Pullman Regional Hospital Mikkelsen's role extends to serving as medical program director for Whitman County, developing protocols and guidelines for patient treatment and transportation.

In the coming months, a newly developed Disaster Medical Control Center plan will be put into action with PRH serving as the control center for the four counties of southeastern Washington (Asotin, Whitman, Columbia and Garfield). This will allow hospital emergency specialists to efficiently direct disaster victims to receive immediate care at the facility best equipped to treat them.

In the event of a medical emergency in your community, you can trust your emergency medical providers are trained and prepared with stockpiles of supplies, multiple levels of redundancy in communication plans, policies, protocols, countless hours of drills, trainings, regular meetings, specialized committee meetings and a genuine commitment to your health and safety.

Early notification is our best defense. As a community member, you can call 911 at the first sign of an emergency, in addition to learning basic first aid, CPR and being aware of your surroundings. Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your home and a first-aid kit in your vehicle. And, if you're eligible, become a regular blood donor at the weekly blood drives held at your local hospitals in cooperation with Inland Northwest Blood Center.

We can't always prevent a medical disaster from happening, but we can all do our part to prepare and plan to protect and care for our community when we're faced with the question: What if?

Pete Mikkelsen, M.D., is the director of Emergency Services at Pullman Regional Hospital. Mike Heston is the fire chief for the Pullman Fire Department.

Contact: Alison Weigley, Community Relations Coordinator
Pullman Regional Hospital

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