Texas A&M Health Science Center Reminds Us of the Importance of Testing

Gym set up as emergency overflow treatment centerOur team recently volunteered for a community-wide disaster preparedness event, Disaster Day, hosted by the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC).

The idea for Disaster Day began with Hurricane Ike in 2008, when the hospitals in College Station, TX started to overflow. Patients were taken to the Health Science Center (HSC) to be preliminarily treated until the hospitals cleared out, giving medical, nursing and pharmaceutical students real-life experience treating victims of a disaster.

TAMHSC saw this was an indispensable opportunity for students, but couldn’t rely on a natural disaster to occur every year. And that’s how the simulated exercise appropriately dubbed Disaster Day came to be. For the event, volunteers role play disaster victims receiving treatment for “injuries” and “medical conditions” caused by the disaster. In the HSC students’ eyes, though, the disaster — along with the injuries it’s caused — is real.

We chose to participate in Disaster Day this year not only to support the school but also to reinforce one of our main company philosophies: the importance of testing and preparedness. Two weeks before the event our volunteers attended a training session where we each received case studies of the injuries we'd be portraying — heart attacks due to stress and panic after a wildfire hit our area. To adequately prepare, we studied the cases and quizzed each other on our backstories until the day of the event.

Upon arriving at Disaster Day we were sent to the gym, which was set up as an emergency overflow treatment center for victims suffering from burns, dog bites, dehydration, smoke inhalation, etc. The scene was as chaotic as a real disaster would be. A girl lying in a cot was wailing in pain from burns over her entire body. Another victim coded, so emergency personnel ran over to start reviving her. A mother dropped to the floor when doctors were unable to resuscitate her daughter.

The simulation gave students a chance to test their medical knowledge and gave professors, who are real doctors and nurses, the opportunity to assess their students’ treatment of patients.

Just as the HSC needs to make sure its students are prepared for the medical field after graduating, you need to make sure your employees are prepared for a business interruption. Regularly testing your business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plan will give employees the opportunity to familiarize themselves with every aspect of the plan so they’re prepared in the event of a disaster.

If you’re new to the DR testing scene, check out some of our posts for tips.

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