All levels of emergency responders are making sure they are ready for a unified response to a potential disaster. Training exercises that include …
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All levels of emergency responders are making sure they are
ready for a unified response to a potential disaster.
Training exercises that include dozens of agencies will be
conducted nationwide April 20, but the largest will be at
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastern Colorado Health
Care System and community partners will conduct a full-scale
Federal Coordinating Center exercise at 8 a.m. April 20 at the
Signature Flight Support Hangar at Centennial Airport.
The exercise will be a major test of the National Disaster
Medical System, and will triage, treat and transport more than 200
“patients” to 15 metro-area hospitals via 15 ground ambulances and
10 helicopters in less than six hours.
Robert Olislagers, director of Centennial Airport, said various
scenarios will put the National Information Management System to
the test. He urged the public to not be alarmed at the high level
of activity at the airport.
Officials are preparing for a large-scale disaster after
witnessing devastating situations throughout the world.
“In light of the tragedy that is still unfolding in Japan,
people want to know how the U.S. is preparing for a major, national
disaster,” said Roger Rewerts, coordinator of the Federal
Coordinating Center. “This exercise is an example of local,
regional and federal efforts to promote a unified response to
large-scale incidents. Our objectives include enhancing capacity,
building sustainment and creating surge for receiving medical
The exercise will include the set-up and operation of the FCC
Command Center, aircraft arrival and departure of more than 200
patients, medical triage of patients and the aircraft and ambulance
evacuation of the patients from Centennial Airport to local area
medical facilities. In total, more than 300 individuals from 20
community agencies will participate in the exercise.
Earlier this month, Centennial Airport partnered with agencies
such as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal
Aviation Administration to test the Denver Interagency Continuity
Exercise, which enables first responders to coordinate effectively
during an emergency.
An FCC is managed by the Department of Homeland Security NDMS
and may be activated in times of federally declared national or
international emergencies to coordinate definitive medical care of
evacuees from the emergency area to the FCC’s assigned area.
The Denver VA Medical Center FCC, as part of that system, could
potentially receive and process hundreds of patients from anywhere
in the world. The NDMS solicits and organizes community support
services, enrolls non-federal local hospitals and coordinates
community hospital bed availability.
The most recent activation of the FCC system involved the Tampa
and Atlanta VA Medical Facilities to support the evacuees from
Haiti following the earthquake in January 2010.
The agencies involved include: Arapahoe County IMT, South Metro
Fire Rescue, METCOM Incident Dispatch Team, Centennial Airport,
Signature Flight Support, RTD, Action Care Ambulance, Inc, AMR,
Rural Metro Ambulance Service, Tri-State Care Flight, Air Life,
Colorado National Guard, Wyoming National Guard AES 187th, Rotors
of The Rockies, Larkspur EMS, Franktown EMS, Castle Rock EMS,
Elizabeth EMS, Cunningham Fire, Colorado Department of Public
Health and Environment EPRD, Marathon Medical, Inc., Amateur Radio
Emergency Service, Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, VISN 19
and VHA OEM, Sky Ridge Medical Center, Littleton Adventist
Hospital, Parker Adventist Hospital, Platte Valley Medical Center,
Presbyterian/St Luke’s Medical Center, Longmont United Hospital,
Medical Center of The Rockies, St Anthony Central Hospital, St
Anthony North Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Exempla Lutheran
Hospital, Medical Center of Aurora, North Suburban Medical Center,
Swedish Medical Center and University of Colorado Hospital.
The exercise includes a highly active flight line with
helicopters lifting and landing in a fast-paced environment. A
C-130 will arrive and stage with volunteer patients. Blackhawk
helicopters equipped for patient evacuation will arrive and depart.
Air traffic at the airport will not be affected during the
exercise, Olislagers said.
Federal Coordinating Centers recruit hospitals and maintain
local non-federal hospital participation in the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security National Disaster Medical System, coordinate
exercise development and emergency plans with participating
hospitals and other local authorities in order to develop patient
reception, transportation, and communication plans. During system
activation, the FCC coordinates the reception and distribution of
patients being evacuated to the area. There are a total of 72
Federal Coordinating Centers: 32 are controlled by the U.S.
Department of Defense and 40 are controlled by the US Department of
Veterans Affairs. More than 37 Colorado medical facilities have
registered for participation with the NDMS.
Accredited hospitals, usually over 100 beds in size and located
in large U.S. metropolitan areas, are encouraged to enter into a
voluntary agreement with NDMS. Hospitals agree to commit a number
of their acute care beds, subject to availability, for NDMS
patients. Because this is a completely voluntary program, hospitals
may, upon activation of the system, provide more or fewer beds than
the number committed in the agreement.
More information can be found at:
VA ECHCS: http://www.denver.va.gov
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