The National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) at the University of Nebraska facilitated a disaster prepardness exercise with community hospitals throughout western Nebraska in August. Healthcare staff, public health, EMS, as well as local law enforcement, emergency management and community residents participated as patients in the full-scale simulation.
Organized through Nebraska Medicine’s Regional Disaster Health Response System grant of $3 million from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the exercise aimed to address gaps in coordinated patient care during disasters, specifically focused on event recognition, use of medical specialty teams to expand care capability, telemedicine and the use of a new interoperable communications system called Knowledge Center. Of note, the selected urban counterpart in this pilot grant is Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass.
“So many times, we do this type of training at the larger rural hospitals in our state, so we really wanted to extend this offer to the smaller rural hospitals in Nebraska,” said Dennis Coldsen, health care coordinator for Rural Region one Medical Response System Health Care Coalition, which represents 22 counties in Northeast and North Central Nebraska. “The exercise demonstrated a need to communicate within and outside of the affected facility with the health care coalition, other hospitals and agencies that can provide support. Knowledge Center, although new to most of us, appears to be a tool that can be utilized to aid in information sharing, resource allocation, information collection and situational awareness.”
Ainsworth and Kearney were selected through the Rural Region One Medical Response System and the training primarily included Brown County, Rock County and Cherry County hospitals. St. Francis Hospital in West Point, Neb., Columbus Community Hospital in Columbus, Neb., Providence Medical Center in Wayne, Neb., and others also participated via Knowledge Center and by sending professionals to the primary participant hospitals.
Through the pilot grant, the Regional Disaster Health Response System will build on local health care coalitions and trauma centers, creating a tiered system of disaster care. The system is envisioned to integrate local medical response capabilities with emergency medical services, burn centers, pediatric hospitals, public health labs, and outpatient services to meet the overwhelming health care needs created by disasters.
“NSRI was instrumental in facilitating the development of both discussion- and operations-based exercises to test established coalition response capabilities and the novel concepts developed during the last year of the project,” said Angela Vasa, nurse manager for Nebraska Medicine. “Their team provided a structured approach to the integration of a complex set of deliverables into a culminating event.”
Ultimately, the goal is to provide trauma, burn or other specialty care during a national emergency, and in turn, save more lives.
“We are always proud to support our partner, Nebraska Medicine, through our training expertise,” said Daniel Polanski , NSRI deputy director of field operations and training. “The opportunity to work with Nebraskans was also a highlight for me, given much of our requests are from major metropolitan areas and federal agencies across the country.
“It is important that NSRI supports its home state. Mission accomplished.”
About NSRI All Hazards Response Training
The National Strategic Research Institute's all hazards response training is the only program combining the best countering weapons of mass destruction academic research in the nation with the strength of seasoned CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) industry talent. NSRI’s team can design almost any program around specific mission requirements and objectives, to custom-fit training needs.