Fort Drum, local hospitals prepare for emergencies

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Preparing for the worst, several north country hospitals partnered with Fort Drum Wednesday, training how to respond to an active shooter situation.

Soldiers with simulated injuries came to Samaritan Medical Center in a fleet of ambulances and a military van.

Drum and hospitals train every year for dealing with a mass casualty incident. Each year, the cause of the incident is different.

“We’re always prepared. It’s what we do we’re healthcare. Any time you can drill it and really practice it makes you better,” said Leslie Di Stefano, Director of Communication and Public Relations.

The severely wounded were wheeled into the hospital’s emergency department, but a majority received treatment in the ambulance bay, a necessary move when the site is flooded with patients.

“The ability to practice a mass casualty incident really makes sure that we are prepared to be the North Country’s trauma center,” said Andrew Short, the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer.

Since Fort Drum doesn’t have a hospital on post, it relies on community partners like Samaritan. Short says that relationship is important.

“I think it gives us a chance to serve those that serve our country,” he said.

Samaritan personnel encouraged thinking “on the fly” during the exercise to help simulate the scenario’s unexpected nature.

“It’s really good to knock the rust off of some processes and see what we can do better,” Short said.

According to hospital, the exercise went well, and communication significantly improved since last year’s exercise.

“We also had some new communication tools that we were using as a management team, which really helped. Using Microsoft Teams and other products so that communication was really quick. That was nice,” DiStefano said.