Russ Williams was cutting wood Saturday morning when he heard a call for backup help over the police scanner he usually listens to. A member of Payson City's ambulance association, Williams dropped everything to rush to the scene of a multiple-injury accident.
It wasn't until he arrived, drenched in perspiration and nervous about what he would have to do, that he discovered the whole thing was a mock disaster, planned and implemented by Mountain View Hospital and local emergency medical teams."I'm not a certified EMT (emergency medical technician) yet, but I give them backup help when needed," Williams said. "Even though I don't know everything there is to do, I feel competent when I'm at the scene because we've got good people out there doing their job."
"There's a couple of reasons why we set up something like this drill," said Pam White, spokeswoman for Mountain View Hospital, where the "patients" were transported after receiving on-the-scene treatment. "First of all, it's a Joint Commission Accreditation of Health Organizations' requirement to hold drills like this twice a year. Next, it gives us a chance to see if our policies and procedures are practical and applicable. It gives us a chance to use them in a real-life situation."
Although the hospital has held drills in the past, this one was the first to involve so many other groups. First responders and ambulance crews from Mapleton, Springville, Salem, Spanish Fork, Elberta and Santaquin responded to the two accident calls, which involved 12 victims with broken bones, cuts, scrapes and lots of fake blood.
"We had a motorcycle-car collision by Elberta and a bus-car collision near Spanish Fork," said Afton Maurin, emergency room head nurse.
Besides a stubborn gurney that took a while to unfold and an injured baby who was overlooked at one of the accident scenes, the general consensus seemed to be that things had gone well.
"I think it was a good experience," said Nancy Wood, training officer for Salem's first-responder crew and a burn victim. Although it took a while for her to get medical attention, the care Wood finally did receive was administered competently. "We learned a few things, and it gave us a chance to work with the ambulance associations, to work with the hospitals and to work with AirMed."
AirMed, the University of Utah helicopter used for transporting critically injured patients, also participated in the drill. "I was real impressed with how things went," said Flight Nurse Gregg Tidrich. "A simulation like this is hard, but procedures at both scenes were done really well."
While patients and other participants ate complimentary sandwiches, emergency room physician Nathan Williams said the drill had definitely been worthwhile. "We learned some things we do well, and we found some things we need to work on," he said.
At a meeting scheduled this week, all involved will discuss and evaluate what went well - and what didn't. "We'll decide then what changes, if any, have to be made and try to work out any problems with the other groups," said Mountain View's assistant administrator Steve Bateman, who observed the drill and took notes.
Russ Williams finished his sandwich and headed back to his interrupted wood-cutting job. "Even though it's a drill, once you got out there, the adrenalin really got flowing," he said. "It's good practice. And another thing - those makeup jobs were great!"