The Hilo Medical Center has released a timeline of the hospital’s emergency preparation on February 27th, the day that Hawaii scrambled under the threat of a tsunami that ultimately spared the islands from damage.
“Hilo Medical Center has an effective process and plan for responding to emergency situations like the recent tsunami event,” said Howard N. Ainsley, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “It was very evident that our staff dedicates countless hours of training to ready the hospital on a moment’s notice.”
According to the Hilo Medical Center, personnel began to mobilize the moment they received notice of the approaching tsunami, in the early morning hours on Saturday.
2:30 am: Department of Health Hawaii District Health Office contacted Tracy Aruga , HMC Environmental Safety Officer/HAH’s (Healthcare Association of Hawaii) HI Island Area Coordinator. He reported to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Emergency Operations Center for a briefing on the situation
4:00 am: HMC Environmental Safety Officer/HAH’s HI Island Area Coordinator briefed Reggie Agliam, HMC House Supervisor, of tsunami event. He also briefed the other East and West Hawai`i healthcare facilities.
4:18 am: HMC Environmental Safety Officer/HAH’s HI Island Area Coordinator connected to hospitals statewide including HMC via HAH’s Web Emergency Operations Center (WebEOC).
5:00 am: HMC Environmental Safety Officer/HAH’s HI Island Area Coordinator briefed Arthur Sampaga , HMC Emergency Management Coordinator, of tsunami event.
5:45 am: HMC’s Hospital Command Center (HCC) opened and manned by HMC Emergency Management Coordinator.
6:00 am: HMC assessed for staffing, logistical resources, and status of campus utilities such as fuel levels for emergency generators and medical gas/oxygen inventories; created a list of possible patient discharges to anticipate incoming tsunami casualties; and researched if there were any HMC home-care patients who lived in evacuation zone (none identified).
6:30 am: On-call administrator, Dan Brinkman , Regional Chief Nurse Executive, assumed leadership role of Incident Commander for the Hospital Command Center .
6:45 am: Hospital Command Center staffed with Command Chiefs and Section Leaders.
7:00 am: HMC participated in HAH statewide conference call. Incident Action Plan developed for the first 4 operational hours.
8:00 am: All department heads and charge shift personnel briefed at Command Center .
9:00 am: HMC’s Residency and Pediatrics Clinics on Mohouli Street secured in tsunami zone.
10:00 am: HMC participated in conference call with HAH for a statewide update on situational status. IAP updated.
10:30 am: Complete assessment of up coming shifts and patient census performed in anticipation of prolonged event.
10:30 am-2:30 pm: HMC stood ready for approaching tsunami and its after effects.
2:00 pm: All clear given for tsunami threat. HMC Incident Commander terminated HCC operations.
Hilo Medical Center says that the hospital’s emergency personnel “had to assess the facility’s capacity and ability to care for and feed patients. The Maintenance Department checked and prepared emergency infrastructure to keep services going in the event a power outage would have occurred. The Pharmacy Department reported its supply of medication. The Operating Room rearranged the operating schedule. In addition, physicians were available to assure care. Departments that reported to the Hospital Command Center include: Nursing, Emergency, Imaging, Patient Services, Human Resources, Maintenance, Housekeeping, Bio-Medical, Dietary, Pharmacy, and Security.”
Dr. Robert Irvine, Chair of the East Hawaii Regional Board, reflected on the institutions’ readiness. “Our community and its hospital are in the hands of capable and well practiced team of emergency responders,” he said. “Preparing a hospital as large as ours is an enormous feat. I thank everyone involved.”
Hilo Medical Center is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which also operates Hale Ho’ola Hamakua and Ka’u Hospital.