The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

AVG holds explosion disaster drill


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

A CREW featuring employees from Beacon Ambulance and Aspirus Grand View Hospital works on a patient near a de-contamination tent during a mock drill at the hospital Friday in Ironwood.

IRONWOOD - Employees at Aspirus Grand View Hospital prepared for the worst on Friday, participating in a mock disaster drill.

The drill featured a mock explosion at an Ironwood home, with eight "patients" seeking medical attention at the hospital. Patients were played by junior volunteers at the hospital, with a variety of injuries as a result of the explosion.

Medical personnel were informed chemicals were possibly involved in the explosion.

Patients arrived by Beacon Ambulance or walked in themselves. Once patients arrived, they were escorted to a de-contamination tent, where they were scrubbed and rinsed to remove any potentially dangerous chemicals.

Each patient had a tag around his or her neck, featuring age, possible injuries and other information. Once they were de-contaminated, patients were transported to the emergency room for care.

According to Mary Aspinwall, director of emergency preparedness, the drill was planned over the last few months, and some staff were aware the drill was taking place on Friday.

"We wanted to keep it as realistic as possible," Aspinwall said.

At the start, a "code drill" was called over the loudspeaker, advising all managers to report to a location to be briefed. From there, specific jobs were handed out to make sure the process went as smoothly and safely as possible.

In addition to keeping an eye on the goings-on inside the hospital, personnel also had to prepare for possible transfers to other hospitals, involving helicopters, empty beds and other needs.

While the drill was going on, hospital staff also had to continue on with "business as usual," Aspinwall said, keeping up appointments and tending to real patients at the hospital.

Each year, the hospital is required to do a drill for practice situations. Don Edwards, of the Region 8 Healthcare Coalition, helped plan it. According to Edwards, his job is to help look over the drill, and he conducts drills on a variety of situations, including man-made disasters, such as explosions or accidents, but also natural disasters, such as ice storms, tornadoes and even virus outbreaks.

Specifically, Aspirus Grand View undertook a C-BRNE drill - chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive.

AGV had help from outside sources in the drill, including the Ironwood Public Safety Department, Gogebic County Emergency Management director Jim Loeper, Iron County Emergency Management director Stacy Ofstad, Beacon Ambulance personnel and director Randy Forstrom and the Emergency Medical Services students from Gogebic Community College.

"This is a community event," Edwards said.


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