Hannibal Regional Hospital’s emergency preparedness team looks over medical campus and hospital maps. L-R: Melonie McAfee, Office Supervisor - Plant Operations; Diane Slough, BSN, RN, Director- Emergency Services; Doug Ruble, Vice-President - Facilities; Mike Hale, Emergency Management Specialist; Keith Mosley. Director - Plant Operations.
Meet Mike Hale. He thinks about disasters. All the time.
As Hannibal Regional Hospital’s Emergency Management Specialist, it’s Mike’s job to be aware of every possible disaster scenario and plan drills to prepare our team members to deal with them in case a disaster should happen.
Mike’s background – 21 years as a firefighter, dealing with the unexpected every day – has prepared him to manage disasters of all kinds.
“With my experience, I have developed an emergency situation mindset. I like training people and training them on what they will face in a disaster. I gain more and more knowledge every day and I enjoy interacting with all the different hospital departments,” Mike said.
Mike works year round with the emergency planning team that also includes Doug Ruble, Vice President – Facilities Management; Diane Slough, BSN, RN, Director – Emergency Services; Keith Mosley, Director – Plant Operations; and Melonie McAfee, Office Supervisor – Plant Operations. While no hospital can predict the nature of a future emergency or the date of its arrival, critical areas can be managed so responses can be more effective. The emergency planning team, with access to facilities, emergency services and a wide network of resources in our community and region, plans for disaster response and the continued care of our patients, team members, and the community.
“The emergency planning team’s first job is to consider community hazards specific to us,” Mike said.
This assessment, known as the Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA), is designed to help the hospital gain a realistic understanding of possible vulnerabilities to help mitigate and prepare to respond to emergencies.
“Community hazards take into consideration the local businesses, hazardous materials, geography, and weather specific to each area. We have two major highways, two railroads, a nearby chemical plant, and a major river to take in to account,” he explained.
While no type of disaster can be completely ruled out, the emergency planning team has also listed possible scenarios in order of the likelihood of their occurrence.
“Severe weather, with thunderstorms, tornadoes and all of our code grays, is our number one hazard,” Mike said. Human factors, hazardous materials, and technological failure (such as loss of electricity or water) are other potential emergency situations.
With this in mind, Mike works to create drill scenarios which are then submitted to the emergency planning team for approval and implementation. To build a drill, Mike watches news and weather reports to gather actual disaster information from other locations.
“It’s preventive maintenance,” Mike said. “We try to take other people’s disaster experiences and build a defense in case those things happen to us. We are trying to get a little more protection for our community.”
Although each hospital is required to hold emergency drills by The Joint Commission, Hannibal Regional Hospital exceeds all required disaster preparedness requirements. In the event of a disaster in our area, HRH would begin by assessing locally available resources including hospital equipment and personnel and then progressing to calling in region, state and nationwide resources if needed.
“We would do what we can here,” Mike explained. “If an incident is bigger, we would work up the chain to pull in more resources.”
HRH is part of Missouri Region B, a federal and state-defined geographical area grouping nearby hospitals. Because of HRH’s success in developing Joint Commissioned-approved emergency plans, the Missouri Hospital Association has recognized HRH as a statewide leader and asked HRH to serve as a consultant and resource to help other Region B hospitals attain the same quality standards.
“This opportunity,” said Mike “will also allow us to learn from the experiences of many other hospitals.”
Once a drill has been planned and executed, Mike keeps track of all aspects and results of the drill in order to improve responses for a future event.
“If a Joplin happens here,” said Mike, referring to the tornado that devastated St. John’s Hospital in that southwest Missouri community, “this knowledge of emergency plans would provide a structure to work by. With the wide variety of disasters that could happen, it is hard to prepare and plan for everything. But the planning team works hard to make our all hazards plans in order to bring us back to where we need to be after an event.”