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YNHH, local emergency responders partner for mass casualty drill 


Physicians and staff from departments throughout YNHH participated in the Sept. 26 mass casualty exercise, coordinating with area first responders and staff at Tweed New Haven airport. A post-exercise debriefing helped identify strengths and opportunities for improvement.


A team with YNHH’s Center for EMS participated in the mass casualty exercise. “Patients” were played by area students, volunteers and residents, who acted out the symptoms of a wide variety of injuries.


Registrars stationed at the ED recorded information about “patients” brought in from a simulated accident at Tweed New Haven Airport during a Sept. 26 mass casualty exercise.


Emergency and trauma physicians and staff evaluated the mock patients, whose simulated injuries ranged from minor to severe.

On the afternoon of Sept. 26, dozens of physicians and staff from departments throughout Yale New Haven Hospital gathered at the York Street Campus Adult Emergency Department after receiving a text about an accident at Tweed New Haven Airport.

It was a simulated mass casualty exercise, but you’d never know that from the response. As soon as the 20 “patients” began arriving at the hospital, the team at the ED went into action – triaging, evaluating, treating and transporting people with a wide variety of injuries. 

An earlier part of the drill occurred at Tweed New Haven Airport, which conducts full-scale exercises every three years in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration preparedness guidelines. The exercises test communications; fire, police and emergency medical response capabilities; hospital mass casualty plans; and other aspects of response. 

The Joint Commission requires these kinds of exercises for the hospital, providing an excellent opportunity to engage staff while enhancing current plans, said Jordan Swenson, YNHH manager of disaster preparedness and response.

“This training is our best, most comprehensive opportunity to pull different aspects of an accident response together,” she said. “Exercises like this allow us to recognize areas for improvement when lives aren’t at stake and seconds aren’t counting.”

The Sept. 26 exercise scenario was a collision between a box truck and a plane carrying 150 people at Tweed. The accident “victims” included area students, volunteers and residents, who wore makeup and acted out their symptoms. 

“The training is a good way not only to plan, but to maintain partnerships with local agencies and other first responder agencies throughout Connecticut,” Swenson said. “Through these kinds of exercises, we continue to build those relationships before incidents, so we are prepared when these unfortunate types of events happen.”