Local hospitals prepare for emergency weather situations

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hospitals around our area are being put to the test this week to make sure they’re ready for a worst-case scenario.

They’re taking part in annual drills as part of a state-sponsored initiative called WRECK IT, an acronym for Western Region Emergency Communications Knowledge Information Tests.

Thursday morning, drills were held at all Catholic Health hospitals in our area, with local high schoolers volunteering to play the patients.

The “patients” at Sisters of Charity Hospital were played by Health Sciences Charter School students who were helping the hospital practice its response to a major ice storm.

The scenario involved widespread power outages and travel restrictions, with mock victims coming in for help after being exposed to the elements. “We try to stress the ER and the hospital to be able to try to manage with those patients,” explained Tom Smalley, health & safety and environment manager for Sisters of Charity Hospital.

The mock patients put the hospital staff through its paces from the moment they checked in at the front desk, through the sorting and treatment process in the Emergency Department. The actors who were assigned to have immediate medical needs were taken back to receive care while those who were presenting as cold and hungry were given warm blankets and help in the waiting room.

It was a great learning experience for the Health Sciences Charter School students who have big dreams in this industry, offering them a chance to see how hospitals operate from both sides of the experience. “We want to get our young people introduced to the health care industry, how we do things, how it operates. Also, we want them to be able to see when they come here, they’re going to get the best care that they can possibly get,” Smalley said.

Thursday’s drills at the Catholic Health hospitals marked day 3 of this year’s WRECK IT initiative. The drills are scheduled to wrap up Friday.

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