Lufkin hospital responds to West disaster with action plan

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Many East Texans may be wondering how Angelina County would handle a disaster situation like the West, Texas explosion if it were to happen here.

This week's tragedies in Boston and West show that emergencies can happen in any community at any time, and that's why Memorial Hospital in Lufkin has an emergency response plan to activate should disaster strike.

"That sets up our command center, our triage area outside of our E.R. entrance, it opens up some treatment zones we have within the hospital based on the triage of the patients that are coming in, it activates staff and physicians." Ken Jobe, assistant manager of safety and environment of care, said.

On a normal day, roughly 100 patients are treated at the Memorial emergency room, but during a time of disaster that number could triple.

"We have established alternative care sites within the city and within the county. This is so we're able to put other patients there and be able to treat them off-site with some of the staff here at the hospital as well as our surrounding hospitals," Jobe said.

The hospital executes an emergency mock exercise at least twice a year. They also perform procedures internally when necessary.

"Any event you learn from it whether it's a mock exercise or a real event," Jobe said.

The most current events that have prepared the hospital better for disasters were the last two hurricanes to pass through East Texas.

"The two big ones of course were Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike," Jobe said. "Our plans were activated. We had warning on those unlike the West, Texas incident."

During a disaster every staff member will be called in to assist in the aid.

"The number one priority for any event is life safety. You can fix a building, you can't fix a life. So, we want to take care of our patients and our community; that's always number one," Jobe said.

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