MedTrust to Hold Region’s First Multiple-Facility Hurricane Evacuation Exercise on June 15th-16th

Staff Report From South Carolina CEO

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018

MedTrust Transport, the premier provider of ambulance services in the Lowcountry and Grand Strand, will hold a hurricane evacuation exercise on Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, 2018. The exercise, featuring 19 organizations and approximately 160 individuals, will be the first of its type for the region, spanning multiple facilities from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
 
The exercise, named Hurricane Palmetto, simulates a Category 3 Storm striking the South Carolina coast just south of Charleston County and moving north-north east across the coastline.
 
“Unlike any previous exercise of this type, Hurricane Palmetto will provide a real-time test of the evacuation response plans of the facilities throughout the Lowcountry and the Grand Strand,” said Josh Watts, CEO of MedTrust Transport. “It will also enable EMS providers such as MedTrust to gain valuable knowledge on how best to conduct an efficient evacuation of those facilities, should we ever face that circumstance.”
 
Representatives of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s EMS Bureau and Public Health Preparedness Office will observe the exercise.
 
Hurricane Palmetto is designed to test the process of communication of needs for facilities and patient information to be shared during a disaster, including communication and patient tracking programs for facilities to be able to have real time access to see where their patients are.
 
It will also validate evacuation response plans for local facilities and ensure their communication and evacuation plans are up to date and appropriate for the needed response to a call to facilitate evacuation.
 
Finally, it will strive to ensure an efficient evacuation of facilities in a safe and timely manner, with team movements coordinated and communicated for proper tracking.
 
The facilities involved will be acting approximately 24 to 48 hours in advance of the storm reaching land, and in response to the equivalent of a state-issued Medical Facility Mandatory Evacuation for Coastal Carolina.
 
Because of the damaging winds and heavy rainfall and resulting wide-spread area flooding this storm would cause, all non-Hospital locations in the exercise do not have waivers to shelter in place and must evacuate. Additionally, the area’s freestanding emergency departments will close, requiring movement of multiple patients.
 
The exercise will require facilities to coordinate evacuations, transportation of needed equipment and staff to assist with patients. Operating under a notice of mandatory evacuation by state officials, facilities will need to take actions to ensure a complete, accurate evacuation while maintaining the ability to accordingly track and care for their patients.
 
Patients from facilities will need to be transported by different modes to other medical facilities in the area, region, state and adjoining states. Resource management, clear facility needs and the ability to fulfill those needs for evacuation will need to be completed 24 hours prior to landfall, at which time the assets will become available to assist the State DHEC EMS office with Urgent and Emergent request for response.
 
In addition to serving as the organizer of the exercise, MedTrust will lead the EMS providers, which also includes Shoreline Ambulance, Thorne Ambulance, American Trans Med, and Medics of South Carolina.
 
At one point in each day’s exercise, critical patient transfer by air will be simulated, featuring helicopters provided by Air Methods. The leader in the air medical environment with nearly 40 years of experience in emergency air transport, Air Methods has safely transported and provided exceptional clinical care for tens of thousands of adult and pediatric patients across the country.
 
The facilities participating include:

Trident Health System (Trident Medical Center, Summerville Medical Center, Moncks Corner Medical Center, Centre Pointe FSED), Tidelands Health (Tidelands Health (Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital, Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital), Grand Strand Healthcare (Grand Strand Medical Center, North Strand FSED, South Strand Medical Center) HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Charleston, Life Care Center of Charleston, NHC HealthCare Charleston, NHC HealthCare, Garden City, Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community, Sandpiper Nursing & Rehab.
 
Members of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts from the Coastal Carolina Counties will serve actors in the role of patients.
 
SEE and MTR are providing medical supplies, while Zoll Medical is providing the technology solutions for the exercise. Verizon Wireless is providing the communications network for the Emergency Operations Center.