JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Brooke Army Medical Center, or BAMC, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston conducted a mass casualty exercise Nov. 9 to test the staff’s ability to handle multiple trauma patients with a variety of physical injuries and emotional distress.
The scenario mirrored real-life events that have taking place in cities across America. A large crowd was gathering for a 5K run when several vehicles struck the crowd and multiple shooters started firing automatic weapons, creating a massive amount of casualties.
As part of the exercise, BAMC received, triaged and treated 42 simulated patients after they arrived by bus from the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio. This exercise focused on the emergency department and the patient administration Division’s ability to account for and track the patients within the system.
Patients arrived with a multitude of injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen to fractures from being trampled by the crowd. Others showed signs of emotional trauma, testing the chaplains and behavioral health personnel’s ability to respond to these types of events.
“I think overall our response to the Active-Shooter MASCAL scenario went well,” said Air Force Maj. Kristen Jacob, registered nurse in the Emergency Department. “The casualties with significant injuries requiring immediate life-saving treatment were quickly triaged and moved to the trauma bays where teams of clinicians stabilized and moved to a higher level of care.”
“Today’s exercise was a community-wide exercise in which we participated with our community partners led by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council,” said Steve Burton, emergency management specialist. “We do these exercises twice a year in order to maintain the readiness of our staff to be able to respond and react to any all-hazard emergency.
“The exercises allow the emergency management personnel to test and evaluate the BAMC Emergency Operations Plan in order to ensure that it is effective,” Burton added. “BAMC also has to meet multiple regulatory requirements from The Joint Commission and U.S. Army Medical Command.
“What we learned today is that no matter how well you think your plan is written there is always room for improvement, that in and of itself is the basis for why we drill twice a year,” Burton said. “We do it to improve our processes and procedures by discovering things that were ineffective or that we never anticipated. The result is that these types of exercises provide critical training opportunities for our staff, validates our capabilities to participate with our community partners, and enhances our readiness and ability to effectively respond to a city-wide emergency.”