Erie County Healthcare Coalition conducts disaster preparedness exercise in Sandusky – Morning Journal

The Erie County Health Care Coalition conducted a bomb simulation exercise to ensure the county is prepared for any disaster the community may encounter.

Real-world training and education was provided during the exercise which began around 9 a.m. on November 16.

Hospital staff worked with local law enforcement and others to set up a scenario called Code Black.

Erie County health and law enforcement officials gather to conduct a bomb simulation exercise Nov. 16 at Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky. (Heather Chapin for The Morning Journal)

“The exercise was helpful for the Firelands Health team members to find out what it might be like if the scenario were to actually take place,” said Jordan Sternberg, director of marketing at Health of the Firelands. “The end goal is always to practice safety protocols, who would be in charge, what are the decision-making processes?

“These are all identified in the exercise. Throughout the exercise, we also received “injections” which are used by the organizer to simulate the randomness of a seizure.

“The unexpected is inevitable in times of crisis, and we must be able to adapt. That was the purpose of the exercise.

Several hospital staff were involved not only in the search for bomb props, but also in organizing additional emergency services to prepare for a mass evacuation.

Other staff members responded to fictitious phone calls regarding the location and condition of patients.

The exercise simulated a series of bomb threats at five locations in health facilities across the county.

The exercise did not disrupt normal operations at participating facilities.

“Our emergency response community has engaged in these coordinated exercises to be better prepared for a wide variety of scenarios,” said Tim Jonovich, director of emergency management for Erie County. “Everyone who participated in the exercise was assessed immediately after the exercise.

“The results of the assessment will better prepare us in the event of a major incident in our region.

The event was sponsored by Firelands Health, the Erie County Emergency Management Agency and the Erie County Department of Health.

Regional agencies that participated include: Admiral’s Pointe; Erie County Drug Rehab Center; Erie County Sheriff’s Office; Family health services; Health of the Firelands; Lynx EMS; the meadows of Osborn Park; Manoir du Moulin; North Central EMS; the Ohio Veterans’ Home – Sandusky; Parkvue community; Providence care center; Common to Providence; Hospice Stein; and the Sandusky Police and Fire Department, according to a press release from the Erie County EMA.

“COVID has demonstrated how essential it is for health agencies to be able to work together during emergencies and how interdependent we are with each other,” said David Tatro, CEO of Family Health Services.

“In addition to full-scale exercise, Firelands also has mini-exercises in an ongoing effort to prepare for other diverse scenarios,” Sternberg said.