'Victims' and first responders

Titusville Fire Department Acting Chief Joe Lamey (left) and Titusville Police Chief Harold Minch assist ‘victims’ Susan Pugh (with Lamey) and Brittany Wurster during a mass casualty preparedness drill held Thursday by Titusville Area Hospital. The drill was conducted in Robert’s Grove, across from the hospital. Pugh and Wurster are nursing students at the Venango Technology Center.

During the past several months, Titusville has been the scene of various non-violent protests — but what if one of these protests became violent? 

On Thursday morning, area residents with scanners probably heard the 911 call come over the airwaves reporting that there was an incident occurring at Robert’s Grove, an incident involving “massive injuries.”

When emergency responders arrived, they saw numerous “victims of a protest that turned violent” who were sitting or laying on the basketball court at the park, which is located across from Titusville Area Hospital (TAH), on Oak Street.

According to Holli Wolfe, TAH director of marketing and foundation, the “victims” were part of a mass casualty preparedness drill held by the hospital.

Wolfe said the drill, initiated in the park, where a large group of protestors (student volunteers from the Venango Technology Center Practical Nursing Program) began to become violent and engage with police officers. 

She said that the “victims” were then transported from the park to the TAH emergency room.

Wolfe added that approximately 20 nursing students participated in the drill.

“Our staff handled it well,” Wolfe said. “The staff triaged the ‘victims’ as they came in to determine the severity of injuries.”

She said that “victims” who could walk from the scene entered the hospital’s front lobby where they were evaluated by staff.

Wolfe said the emergency room department’s staff were primarily involved in the drill.

Titusville Area Hospital CEO Lee Clinton said, “The drill was a full scale exercise to assess the hospital’s ability to provide immediate care for multiple causalities, secure the premises from unauthorized entry, and identify command staff in an emergent situation.” 

In addition, an EmergyCare ambulance, staffed by Joe Horst and Todd Greer, transported “victims” to the hospital’s emergency room.

Horst said the drills are held to make sure the ambulance staff knows what to do if a mass casualty event would occur.

“Our training keeps our skills sharp,” Greer added.

Wolfe said planning of the drill began several months ago.  

The drill involved many key agencies in the community that would be involved in a real situation.   

Agencies included Titusville city police, Emergycare, Titusville Fire Department, Crawford County emergency dispatch, and the visiting nurse association (VNA).   

“We also had many volunteers from the Venango Technology Center Practical Nursing Program to pose as the victims,” Wolfe said.   

According to Brian Maginnis, TAH safety officer, “The exercise did not affect patient care for the true patients at TAH. It went smoothly and as hoped. We are very proud of the staff at TAH for acting upon the drill as if it were a true emergent situation. The drill demonstrated immense teamwork from all agencies proving our capabilities in any situation.”

Wolfe said the drill began with a call to 911 reporting that there was a disturbance in Robert’s Grove, followed by a mock lockdown of the hospital.

She added that the Venango Tech students gathered in the hospital’s education center prior to the drill so they could be “prepped with make-up” to appear as though they suffered injuries.

“We wanted to make it as real as possible,” Wolfe said. “Our staff did a great job. It really worked well.”

This is the third drill TAH has been involved with in the past year.

Wolfe said the hospital held a table top exercise for a severe weather (tornado) drill that was conducted in April. And, in August 2016, TAH participated in an active shooter drill held by the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.

To learn more about Titusville Area Hospital, visit the website at titusvillehospital.org

Hill can be reached by email, at mhill@titusvilleherald.com.

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