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St. James Hospital Successfully Conducts Mass Casualty Drill in Collaboration with Local Emergency Services

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Simulated disaster on I-86 a key training tool

Pictured: 31 students from BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program portray bus crash victims

Hornell NY… St. James Hospital, in partnership with local emergency services, conducted a highly successful mass casualty drill on Wednesday, October 4, to enhance the hospital’s emergency preparedness protocols. The comprehensive simulated drill involved a large multi-vehicle accident on I-86 westbound, outside exit 34B, near Hornell and Arkport, and included a school bus and fertilizer truck collision with various degrees of victim injuries and chemical exposure. The drill allowed St. James Hospital, Hornell Fire and EMS personnel, and other collaborators to practice their emergency operations plan and refine their processes effectively.

During the exercise, thirty-one student victims from the BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program portrayed different injury levels, enabling medical staff and emergency responders to triage and treat them using the SMART tagging system. The system utilized four colors, indicating the severity of injuries – black for deceased victims, red for severe injuries, yellow for non-life- threatening serious injuries, and green for minor injuries.

The collaboration between St. James Hospital and local EMS groups is essential to prepare for real-life events. Unfortunately, a mass casualty event can happen at any time. Our Emergency Department is equipped and prepared for these events, and our staff is dedicated to providing patients with the best possible outcome,” stated Kaleigh Porcaro, Director of Nursing at St. James Hospital.

Hornell Fire Chief Frank Brzozowski emphasized the significance of such drills, saying, “St. James Hospital has always been a big part of our EMS and Advanced Life Support training. Drills like these allow us to perfect our communication, handoffs, and make sure we are on the same page.”

The involvement of the BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program provided a realistic touch to the simulation, offering valuable insights for future professionals in law enforcement. One student participant, Kahley Stuart, shared, “The drill helped open our eyes to all situations that can happen in the Emergency Department and the protocols that nurses and doctors use. As criminal justice students, it taught us what we can expect working in law enforcement.”

Wendy Disbrow, St. James Hospital President and CEO stated, “This drill prepared us for a real- life disaster in a simulated environment. We can ensure that our care team is ready at a moment’s notice with training like this. I want to especially thank members of our St. James Hospital team Caleb Drake, Director of Facility Operations, Kaleigh Porcaro, RN Director of Nursing, Teri Symonds, RN, and Hornell Fire Chief Frank Brzozowski, for their collaboration and for making this drill possible. We are also pleased to have the involvement of the students and teachers of the BOCES Wildwood Criminal Justice Program.”

St. James Hospital appreciates the collaboration and support from all partners involved in this vital emergency preparedness drill. The hospital remains committed to the safety and well-being of the community and will continue to actively engage in initiatives that enhance its ability to respond effectively to emergencies.

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