Southern New Jersey took its emergency preparedness to a higher level with a seminar and Tabletop Exercise conducted on Tuesday, June 29, 2010. This program involved many emergency preparedness stakeholders including local, county, and state emergency management officials, public health departments, and homeland security. Private healthcare organizations and providers in the southern New Jersey region were represented along with the American Red Cross to develop the relationships necessary to plan for emergencies.
This seminar and exercise was intended to work through the decision making and operational aspects of a plan that was developed over the past few years. The group worked to establish, equip, supply and operate medical needs shelters in concert with community based evacuation shelters. During this same timeframe, appropriate equipment and supplies were purchased and prepared for deployment to support the plan. This exercise was the first to focus on the decision making and management issues to support establishing and operating these types of shelters in our region
The scenario for the drill portion of the program was the development of a major forest fire forcing evacuation of area residents and long term care facilities, resulting in the need to open mass care (evacuation) shelters and a shelter to care for those with medical needs not requiring hospitalization.
“All efforts are being made to best avoid the potential for uninjured persons from the community entering our region’s hospitals during a community evacuation or other disaster event,” said Ryan Miller, RN, at Cooper. “This event enhanced the current planning by allowing many of the agencies and organizations involved to test their existing plans and develop new strategies.”
The overall goal for the exercise portion of the program was to give participants the opportunity to apply the information received during the seminar and promote smooth and successful implementation of the established plan and capabilities when needed in the future.