As the Wauneta ambulance rolled up to Chase County Community Hospital, EMS and hospital staff members discuss responsibilities in a Friday morning drill that tested response to an influenza outbreak. (Johnson Publications photo)

Hospital drill tests staff’s response to viral outbreak

    Multiple ambulances coming into Chase County Community Hospital on Friday may have caused some alarm.
    However, it was all staged as the staff took part in a drill helping them prepare for a potential viral outbreak in the county.
    Only a few staff members were aware it was a drill. However, even those who did know beforehand and were helping in the plans didn’t know when or what the scenario would entail, said Shannon Kuhlmann, R.N., who also handles the hospital’s infection prevention/quality efforts.
    According to the scenario, the number of influenza cases had been increasing dramatically in Chase County in recent days.
    As a result, the scenario continues, the clinics in both Wauneta and Imperial were having difficulty keeping up with the number of patients and with phone calls requesting the influenza vaccine and prophylactic meds.
    The epidemic wasn’t limited to Chase County, however, according to the scenario.
    Staff was told schools in eastern and central Nebraska were closing down. Geriatric and pediatric patients were hit the hardest. Three pediatric deaths had been reported in the state, and panic among the public was growing.
    Nationally the past three weeks, medical personnel were also dealing with growing influenza cases that were hitting hard and fast.
    Kuhlmann said both ambulances from Imperial and Wauneta’s two ambulances picked up people at their homes, or used mannequins in the drill.
    They arrived at the hospital shortly after 8 a.m. Friday.
    Kuhlmann said all of the “patients” went through the E.R., where one was determined critical and the rest were sick but ambulatory.
    “All were influenza positive,” she said.
    As they commenced with what would happen in a real situation, Kuhlmann said it was determined the critical “patient” should be flown out.

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