Nearly 140 healthcare personnel, representing more than 25 Michigan hospitals, long-term care facilities, EMS agencies and fire departments, attended training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness’ (CDP) Noble Training Facility (NTF) recently. These personnel represented six counties, almost 22 percent of the Great Lake State.

“Each of us has our own expertise and we are fortunate to have many disciplines and departments represented here this week,” said Gail Juleff, Emergency Preparedness Program Manager from Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. “You need everybody in an incident. The [NTF] here functions like an actual hospital. We are learning the various roles of incident command and response; the importance of the collaboration with all partners; and how essential communication and coordination is during an emergency.”

The NTF is the only hospital in the nation solely dedicated to training healthcare professionals for mass casualty response. These Michigan employees attended one of three courses, depending on their occupations —the Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) course, the Healthcare Leadership for Mass Casualty Incidents (HCL) course or the Emergency Medical Operations for CBRNE Incidents (EMO) course. All of these courses focus on emergency management, healthcare, the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services and hazardous materials.

This was an opportunity for the Michigan responders to exercise their ability to manage a mass casualty incident resulting in a hospital-patient surge. The training was intended to maintain proficient emergency incident and disaster management skills and develop relationships between regional hospitals.

“Training is dynamic; it is not static,” said Bob Dickerson, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, St. John Macomb - Oakland hospitals in Warren and Madison Heights. “We know that natural disasters or chemical accidents can happen at any time. Training at the CDP allows us to prepare and identify opportunities to improve, find our strengths and better serve our patients and community.

During training, these healthcare professionals were required to activate the hospital’s command center and effectively provide a medical response to a simulated mass-casualty incident. The CDP builds realistic exercise scenarios into its courses. The scenarios involve role players with serious injuries and wounds. According to Dickerson, the training provides students an opportunity to network and understand how each facility and agency trains, allowing them to learn from one another during the training week.

“We have multi-disciplinary groups here from hospital leadership and administrators to emergency department personnel and facilities and operations,” said Dickerson. “We don’t always work directly with our peers from other facilities and exchange ideas. We’re discussing real challenges and opportunities that may allow us to standardize our practices as a region.”

“This training is important,” said Juleff. “Fourteen years ago there wasn’t the same investment in training. Following 9/11 the need and importance was obvious. I encourage everyone to come here and learn, practice and see why this training is so important.”

The CDP incorporates the use of modern equipment and procedures emergency responders use in emergency situations. Each scenario focuses on the foundations of CDP training—incident management, mass-casualty response and emergency response to a catastrophic natural disaster or terrorist act.

“This training is not a vacation,” said Dickerson. “This is hard work and takes commitment. Compare what we’ve learned over the past 13 years and you’ll see how much better we’ve gotten in achieving an improved level of preparedness. We should all take pride in the dedication that all first responders and receivers have committed to.”

“Planning was a critical element in these courses,” Juleff added. “The training requires critical thinking and recognizing the fact that current plans may need to be revised. It is by practicing the plan that we can identify change.”

CDP training is fully funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging and meals are provided at no cost to the state of Michigan or local jurisdictions. 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 http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553. Visit the CDP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn