RHI’s 2013 Rural Health Success Story Contest Winner: Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Disaster Preparedness Drill

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center hosted the first regional inter-facility full-scale exercise ever initiated in Lake County. The scenario involved multiple agencies including, Lake County OEM, EMS, Police from multiple jurisdictions, Search & Rescue, Fire, American Red Cross, St. Luke’s Hospital, Spartan Consulting, St. Patrick’s Hospital, ALERT and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Public and Tribal Health, Salish Kootenai College, Tribal OEM, and many more.


The Lake County Active Shooter 2013 Full-Scale Exercise was developed to test participating agencies Public Information & Warning, Operational Coordination, Operational Communications and Public Health & Medical Services capabilities in response to an Active Shooter incident resulting in multiple casualties and fatalities. The exercise was developed by Spartan Consulting with input, advice, and assistance from representatives from the Lake County exercise design team and followed the guidance set forth in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

  • Objective 1: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Information & Warning capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 2: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Coordination capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 3: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Communications capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 4: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Health & Medical capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.

Public Information & Warning

Strength 1: Use of Public Information Officers (PIO) – All participating agencies either had a pre-designated PIO or appointed one during the incident to manage public information.

Strength 2: Tie in with local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – Due to the active LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) in Lake County, designated PIOs knew to get in touch with the OEM staff (EOC) to coordinate public information activities


Operational Coordination

Strength 3: Participation – Excellent participation from the community in terms of volunteers and participating agencies.

Strength 4: Preparation – Evaluators at each venue were impressed by the level of preparation participating agencies had accomplished since the tabletop exercise in March 2013.

Strength 5: Use of incident management tools and visual aids – ICS vests, wall charts, START Triage tools (tags, tarps, etc.).

Strength 6: Safety – All exercise participants were mindful of doing things safely and as a result there were no real-world injuries reported during the exercise.

Operational Communications

Strength 7: Communications between the scene and St. Joe’s.

Strength 8: Communications between Fire and ALERT and ALERT & St. Luke’s/St. Joe’s

Public Health and Medical Response

Strength 12: Effective management of the patient surge by local hospitals – Key buy in and participation from hospital leadership, training and exercises prior to this activity, a commitment to using the Hospital ICS system, well-planned use of available space and personnel, good motivation and willingness to help by staff, and a smoothly managed Hospital Command Center (HCC) all contributed to supporting the technical expertise of the ED staffs in managing the patient surge. Although St. Luke’s did have minimal staffing due to the weekend and had to respond to a real world incident, St. Joe’s was able to handle the extra workload and prove that the local healthcare system can and will work together effectively.

This project was spearheaded by our Plant Manager Camilla Yamada, who is also our Safety Officer.  The preparation time and energy spent by the  health care facilities, law enforcement, the Tribal College & Law Enforcement Services, Emergency Services and city & county agencies in our valley speaks volumes about the commitment level that we are willing to meet in the effort to make our communities a safer place to live.  We are very fortunate to work with such dedicated and proactive professionals.

Posted in Clinical & Community Preventive Services, Event, Lake, Programs.

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