NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A mass casualty incident, similar to the Boston Marathon bombing, was simulated Thursday across Southeast and Deep East Texas. More than 170 agencies in 25 counties participated in scenarios of similar nature.
The drills tested current plans, policies and procedures ahead of an actual emergency. East Texas News followed the action in Nacogdoches.
A bombing could lead to lots of casualties. A scenario of distraught family members would follow.
“You don't understand,” said a Stephen F. Austin State University Nursing student that was portraying a distraught family member. I heard that there was a bomb and my sister, she's pregnant. She was on campus. Please help me find her."
The request from loved ones to emergency workers is now granted through patient tracking systems.
“I'm going to tag you, immediate, and someone will be right with you,” said an SFA student who was playing a triage nurse.
The triage nurse places a tracking necklace with a scan-able barcode on the patient. Instantly, the patient is connected to emergency first responders and hospitals.
“And it will follow the patients progression from the scene to the receiving facility, so we can keep track of everybody,” said Jeremiah Barnard with the Nacogdoches Fire Department.
Once at the hospital patient status is frequently updated. Identifying information, even tattoos, can be entered into the system.
Links to families and pets can be established. It's a tracking system emergency workers can only wish they had when Rita evacuees converged on Nacogdoches and other east Texas communities in 2005.
“We had lots of lost people,” said Angelina Sowell with the City of Nacogdoches. Everything was manual and there was no way to keep up with people."
"It would have been huge,” said Scott Christopher “In fact, Rita probably fueled the development of software like this."
Today emergency workers and emergency operation centers across the state have access to the patient tracking devices.
Fortunately, the tracking systems aren't needed often, but today's drill showed the tool can be helpful in reuniting families.
"I've got a family member for you,” said the SFA Nursing student who was portraying a triage nurse. “Your sister, Miss Sonya."
“I was so worried about you,” said the SFA student playing a distraught family member. “I was so worried about you."