RUHS - Medical Center conducts mass casualty drill

Wednesday, September 28

Emergency department staff practice receiving, treating 50 patients in 50 minutes

In a matter of minutes, Riverside University Health System (RUHS) – Medical Center was flooded with 50 mock patients covered in fake blood, cuts and bruises.

The pretend patients were volunteers from Vista del Lago High School, Riverside County Emergency Management Department, nursing students from Riverside City College and paramedic and EMT students from Moreno Valley College who played the role of victims in a mass casualty incident.

Mass casualty drills test the readiness of hospital staff and first responders to treat multiple victims of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, plane crashes and other public emergencies and to identify areas of improvement in their emergency response plans.

Hospital staff often have just minutes or less to prepare before the arrival of dozens of badly injured victims all at once.

When “Code Triage Drill” was announced at 9 a.m. Tuesday, emergency department personnel raced to help the volunteer victims and began sorting patients according to the severity of their injuries. Their priority? To maximize the number of survivors. Other team members coordinated parts of the response, including safety, communications and recovery plans.

Dr. Stephanie Loe, an emergency medicine physician who took part in the drill, described it as “chaotic, but exhilarating.”

“Our team responded quickly and skillfully to treat 50 patients in 50 minutes. I feel confident that our team will be prepared should anything like this ever happen in our area,” she said.

Dr. Michael Mesisca, medical director of disaster medicine, called the drill a success. The medical center, which houses one of the busiest emergency rooms and trauma centers in the region, routinely holds drills and has successfully responded to many emergencies. The drills have prepared staff for tragedies such as the 2019 March Air Reserve Base jet crash and the 2015 terrorist attack in neighboring San Bernardino County.

“We planned this drill for several months to give our staff the most realistic training possible. Afterward, we met to discuss what went right and what needs improvement, so our team will always be ready and equipped to save lives in difficult circumstances. We are grateful for all our local partners who supported this drill,” Mesisca said.

RUHS employees respond to a mass casualty incident drill at RUHS – Medical Center in Moreno Valley.