Chippewa Valley hospitals review disaster plans - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa Valley hospitals review disaster plans

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Disasters and emergencies can be chaotic and unpredictable, which is why planning is such a pivotal part.

"Hospitals are fairly robust in their planning for disasters and disasters like what happened in Boston," says director of trauma services at Mayo Clinic Health System Wayne Street.

But it's Boston and recently Texas that open the eyes of emergency rooms to double check their disaster preparedness plans.

"I think anybody who saw video of those disasters, probably thought, 'What would we do if that happened in the Chippewa area?'" says emergency management specialist for St. Joseph's Hospital David Johnson.

"In order for national, federal and state resources to flood an area and to take care of what's going on in the area, it's really a 72-hour response," says Street.

Which means in the first few days of a disaster it's all up to local hospitals and the community to support itself.

"Disaster plans are living documents, they're always changing.  Based on what's going on in the world, based on changes in your own facility," says Johnson.

A recent change to help handle the load during a disaster is being used in Chippewa Falls.

"Send Word Now is a system St. Joseph's hospital uses to communicate with all of our personnel who may not be in the facility during a time of tragedy," says Michele Paquette of St. Joseph's Hospital.

A text alert, voice or e-mail system that calls in doctors and staff to care for the wounded, but to also alert the community.

"We know it's important to communicate with the public when the situation happens," says Paquette.

"It's a great networking system, even online in case the broadcast towers are down.  The local media really would be your friend," says Street.

Sharing important information with you about the scene of a disaster.

"Number one, don't run to the incident.  Unless you have specified training on how to take care of patients and deal and work with disasters, you actually make it worse," says Street.

So to make it better hospitals train multiple times a year to handle and treat any massive traumas that could come their way.

"I think we're very prepared, always trying to improve however.  But I'm confident," says Johnson.

In Eau Claire a typical trauma threat hospitals prepare for revolves around weather, including extended cold in the winter and straight-line wind events.

Also, hospitals say they meet monthly to review, update and discuss their emergency plans.

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