First responders prepare for disaster in regional training exercise

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:30 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Whenever disaster strikes, first responders are there to deal with the aftermath, which means they need to be prepared for any situation.

On Tuesday, first responders across the region came together to strengthen their response techniques using a special platform called Pulsara.

Pulsara is a healthcare communications and logistics platform that unites teams and technologies during dynamic events.

Billy Rice, Director of EMS at St. Joseph Health Hospital, said large scale events are typically difficult to manage, but their goal is to create an actionable plan should a disaster occur.

“I was at [Hurricane] Katrina. No one knew where their family members were, people that were coordinating the emergency didn’t know where they were or what hospital they were going to,” said Rice. “Those days have really changed. We have real time, in a app, where the patient just gets an arm band and as long as they’re part of that incident, the emergency commander knows how many patients are on scene, what the conditions of the patients are, what ambulance has them, what hospital they’re going to.”

Rice said while Tuesday’s exercise was focused on disasters, the technology can also be used for everyday emergencies as well.

“We have used Pulsara for over a year for our ambulances. But we haven’t used it for disasters with other agencies, which is good because there hasn’t been the need, but that’s when we’ll need it most,” said Rice. “Today what we’re doing is kind of an expanded table top exercise where we’re simulating over 100 patients and what it would take to move those patients and get them to the hospital,” said Rice.

St. Joseph Health Director of Emergency Services and Emergency Management Chair, Kristen Christian, told KBTX the drill was a way for receiving hospitals to know what to expect before patients come through their doors.

“This is really just an easy snapshot, and form of communication for receiving hospitals,” said Christian. “When we practice, is what makes us better for live events. Honestly, working regionally, I know here at the hospital and I would assume the Scott & White as well, they’ve set up their incident command. We’ve even made contact with or regional emergency operations center. Where they are helping us take patients out of the community. Just the level of collaboration is really amazing and shows what we can accomplish.”

First responders from all seven counties were involved in Tuesday’s exercise.

Chris Lamb, Paramedic and Public Information Officer with Bryan Fire, said training happens often when it comes to disasters but there can’t be enough of it in order to be prepared.

“Situations like [Hurricane] Katrina, I mean hundreds of patients were shipped here to the Brazos Valley,” said Lamb. “Keeping track of those patients, where they went, for the families, is a logistical nightmare typically. It’s about being proactive, not reactive. It’s just important that we’re ready, the system is ready, everything’s been tested.”

Lamb said all agencies came together on Tuesday for one reason.

“We want to save lives when disaster strikes. I mean, there are no boundaries. If you’re within our seven county region, we’ll help each other out. You’re our neighbors. Having these things thought about and practiced before the actual event, God forbid if it does happen, the citizens of the region need to know we’re ready and we’re always practicing and making sure we’re there for them,” said Lamb.

Another regional training will take place in September with an expanded amount of exercises.

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)