VA Palo Alto Health Care System
VA Palo Alto Practices Emergency Preparedness
The recent 7.1 earthquake on July 5 was felt by millions of people across Southern California and the area is still feeling aftershocks weeks later. This is one of several natural disasters that regularly plague Californians each year and why government agencies must be prepared to respond -- fast. California’s State Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) was just ahead of the curve as they held a joint emergency response exercise at Moffett Federal Airfield on June 14, 2019.
EMSA’s Disaster Medical Services Division holds this exercise annually, requiring months to coordinate with various agencies. This year’s exercise was made to simulate an earthquake disaster, including a real pile of concrete rubble where real people volunteer to play “survivors.”
VA Palo Alto, San Francisco and Northern California health care systems deployed emergency staff and medical professionals for hands-on training while Office of Information and Technology staff helped set up critical communications solutions to keep everyone connected.
“We want to exercise all of us working together so that when a disaster does happen we're all capable, having a good flow and a good working relationship as well as understanding each other's capabilities,” said Joshua Chaplin, EMSA Senior Emergency Services Coordinator.
The exercise also allows clinicians and logistics staff to hone their skills, fulfill education requirements for their profession and practice collaborating with other agencies. However, no medical or logistical training is needed to participate in these exercises.
“Commitment is very minimal, and you don't need to be in health care at all,” said Don Wyatt, CAL-MAT unit leader. “You just need to have the willingness to participate.”