Agencies hold city-wide disaster drill

Crews from across Howard County joined in a city wide drill conducted by the Howard County Emergency Management team this month.Involved were Scenic Mountain Medical Center, Big Spring State Hospital, George H. O’Brien Jr. VA Medical Center, Big Spring Police Department, Big Spring Emergency Medical Service, Howard County Sheriff's Department, Air-Evac LifeTeam and West Texas Centers. Also assisting were members of the Church of the Nazarene youth group. “We get together annually for these drills and this year we focused on what would happen if an active shooter entered the hospital,” Heath White, EOC chairman, said. “With all the recent shootings, it seemed like an issue that needed to be addressed.” According to members of the HCEM team, the objective of the drill was to test the emergency preparedness capabilities for managing such an event. During the drill, Big Spring Police and Howard County Sheriff departments responded to the hospital and provided assistance with security while containing the scene and apprehending the shooter. “During these drills we focus not only on what goes on in the facility, but consider every outlying factor that could be a factor in the situation. In the case of an active shooter, security for all those on scene would be top priority, which is why the role of the police and sheriff's department was so important,” White said. As part of the drill, mock victims were triaged at the alternate care site in emergency mobile tents located on the grounds of the VA Medical Center. The VA was also utilized for overflow of medical patients being removed from the scene of the shooting. Big Spring fire services, Air Evac LifeTeam and Emergency Medical Services, along with VA Medical Center, provided the transportation for mock victims. Big Spring State Hospital and West Texas Centers assisted VA Medical Center staff to provide support and transportation requirements for those victims.