(left: John Sebring)
By JD LONG
CADIZ – Last Friday, numerous departments including Emergency Management Agency (EMA), the Harrison Community Hospital (HCH) and several nursing home centers met to discuss forming a partnership to deal with emergencies.
John Sebring, corporate director for safety security emergency management for Wheeling Hospital and HCH, led off the meeting by stating that he has been working with EMA Director, Eric Wilson to help build their emergency management program, with the intent of working beyond HCH’s boundaries.
“We cannot be successful here at our emergency management or disaster planning…” Sebring explained, “unless we do a couple things.” He talked of extending themselves to work alongside public safety.
The second point he brought up was to reach out to other entities such as Sunnyslope of Bowerston, Gables Care Center in Hopedale, the County Home and Res Care and the Carriage Inn of Cadiz who were all represented at the meeting. The purpose he said was for drilling in exercises to prepare for potential disasters, which could involve moving patients from one facility to another.
“We cannot be successful unless we have coalition partners,” Sebring told them. “So we all have to work together not just in evacuation and transporting and receiving patients…,” he said in regards to working alongside the various agencies.
Sebring made it a point to state they weren’t trying to recreate the wheel but to plan and exercise in the same manner they have been doing with other hospitals in the Ohio Valley.
“Our goal is at Harrison Community Hospital is to service our county and our commission, we’re going to be as prepared as we can be. We’re going to use the resources of not only in this county but all of our hospitals surrounding us and the counties around us and Harrison County is an important part of what we want to do here,” Sebring explained.
He stated that as coalition partners they now had the responsibility of checking supplies and drill and evacuation procedures. He also emphasized that everyone’s disaster plans match in case of the need to transport patients to various facilities.
Sebring said after working at HCH since last year he discovered that, even though everyone was working hard and doing a good job he felt they were alone, which led to his staff working with Wilson on a plan.
Sebring noted three ways in which he would like to partner with the area’s agencies. One was emergency planning where they would work together in a “time of crisis.” A second way was training and exercise and a third way would be to coordinate with EMA.
Wilson then spoke touching on the overview of procedures he handed out to the group, which dealt with what was required of hospitals and assisted living facilities, he said. He spoke about an ambition to help each group to understand the terms in order to “gain compliance.”
Some of the requirements not only dealt with tabletop exercises but also actual physical drills among the different agencies and facilities. Wilson also talked of being the “conduit” for the various groups during an emergency to aid in their needs in case something was required.
“Whatever you can think of, I’ve got access to the resources,” Wilson told them. “I can go to the state level and we’ve also got agreements in place where I can go to Pennsylvania, I can go to West Virginia, I can go almost anywhere I need to go to help make things happen.”
Sebring also gave everyone a chance to express their needs, which began with Gables representatives Kevin Case and Dwaine Zink who stated they already have agreements in place with several hospitals for transporting patients in case of emergency.
Tabletop exercises kept surfacing among the rhetoric for throwing ideas around and preparedness. Wilson said communication was one of the overlooked items they come across and mentioned the beginning of the process when dealing with an emergency.
“How do we start the process?” he asked and noted the mass casualty plan they have been working on since the large exercise the EMA and various agencies conducted last summer, which originated at the MarkWest plant in Cadiz.
“We need to coordinate communication,” he said referring to how many patients would be transported to each of the area hospitals. Wilson asked who should he contacted in an emergency. Who does he get out of bed in the middle of the night?
Sebring talked about ambulances and asked where are you going to get them at a moment’s notice compared to a larger city in a more populated area.
“That’s real life in rural America and so you’re not any different than anybody else,” Sebring told the group.
Everyone agreed to meet again in early March to exchange more ideas.