The South Central Kansas Regional Hospital Preparedness Group attended training at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), during November. The group, 53 in total, attended the Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents (HCL) course, represented 19 counties and 31 hospitals from the Sunflower State.

"Disasters are never planned," said Diana Lippoldt, Director of Nursing for Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Preparedness, at the Wesley Medical Center of Wichita, Kan. "This training places us in an environment we can very well expect in a disaster. [I think] the training helps us minimize chaos and deal with the emergency. It teaches us to communicate and manage an event."

These healthcare professionals trained at the CDP's Noble Training Facility (NTF), the only hospital in the nation solely dedicated to preparing the healthcare, public health, and environmental health communities for mass casualty response to a catastrophic natural or man-made disaster.

"We're always preparing in Kansas," said Tom Donnay, an Emergency Department nurse at Wesley. "The more we train, the more prepared we are. This was an opportunity for our group to work across disciplines and see how everyone comes into play during the process of leading a healthcare facility. The beauty of this group is the diversity in professions and backgrounds. We have EMS, nurses, administrators, physicians, emergency managers, county coroners, spanning the crosswalk of the Emergency Support Function we work during a disaster."

During the four-day class, the students trained to provide a realistic medical response in an actual treatment facility. The NTF provides the perfect setting to mirror an emergency department surge and the activation of a hospital's command center during a mass casualty healthcare response.

"It's very extensive and complete training," said Melissa Shaw, the Emergency Preparedness and Training Exercise Coordinator from the Butler County Health Department in El Dorado, Kan. "I like that it gives hospital staffs a better picture of the roles others play in a disaster, such as public health and emergency management. We all support each other and need to communicate. This has been a great opportunity for our region to network, work together and recognize other agency resources."

Donnay recognizes the value in CDP training. He says, meeting other healthcare professionals from his state, face-to-face, will make a large difference when a disaster requires everyone to work together.

"Each time I train here, I learn something new-I always take something back," said Donnay. "This is a great place to practice. We can make it as real-world as we like here. We are able to visualize our response at home. Training with a large cohort I now can put faces to names and not just job titles."

"I would encourage regions and hospitals to bring a [cohort] here," said Lippoldt. "It's hard to free up for training, but the large groups that train together build relationships and networks. I think it is awesome to come to Anniston and I appreciate FEMA for making these courses available."

"This training has put us all into situations that many of us did not realize could happen," said Shaw. "It provides us with more knowledge. This is priceless. We've seen a different side of an emergency and we know what other roles are played. It gives a broader perspective of what actually happens in an emergency."

CDP training is fully funded for tribal, state, and local response personnel. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals are provided at no cost to responders or their agency or jurisdiction. The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to manmade events or major accidents involving mass casualties. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit or call 866-213-9553. Visit the CDP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.