BEND, OR -- First responders took advantage of an empty building at St. Charles Bend, Monday morning, to practice how to respond to a major hospital emergency, "The scenario was a fire in one of the patient’s rooms that broke out, with smoke," says Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe, "Then they had to evacuate patients."
Howe says the newly constructed - but not yet open - patient tower provided fire crews with a rare chance at a large-scale drill, "We use this opportunity - in a new building, with all the hospital people, and the police department and a bunch of our guys here – to test the system; to see how well we would respond to a fire in the hospital." He says they tried to make it as realistic as possible, "We have actual patient-like dummies that are posing as patients, so we’re able to get them out; have our guys with all their equipment on, and the police department making sure that the traffic and the people are corralled correctly." Deschutes County dispatchers also took part, navigating radio traffic through a special training channel.
Hospitals are required to run regular exercises, but they aren't typically as large as Monday's event. But Howe says it's not something the fire department deals with often, "We don’t have that many fires in hospitals. Hospitals are pretty fire protected. They know, when they build them and design them, that they have to really be careful with fire. So, one of our main issues with the hospital is actually just evacuating people; getting people out of the way, so we can do the work we need to do."