Aug. 7, 2009| The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Arkansas Army National Guard joined forces Aug. 2 in the first disaster exercise of its kind.
With the opening of its new hospital in January, UAMS has the only certified Blackhawk helipad in the state, enabling a valuable partnership with the National Guard.
The partnership allows the best possible response to a major disaster, such as an earthquake, tornado or plane crash and requiring long-distance emergency transport. The mock disaster was a C-130 plane crash at the Carlisle Municipal Airport with 42 people injured, some seriously.
Four Blackhawk helicopters delivered the patients to UAMS after responding from the 77th Aviation Theater Brigade based at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock.
“I think things went even better than I thought they would,” said Ron Crane, emergency preparedness manager, following the exercise. “We demonstrated a capability that we’ve never had as a state, and it further shows that UAMS has the facilities and personnel to very efficiently receive patients in a large-scale disaster and to treat any patient, no matter how critically injured.”
UAMS’ patient reception team, led by Terrell Neal, Emergency Department director, quickly moved patients from the helicopters to stretchers and into triage areas where they were evaluated and treated by Justin Phillips, M.D., and Amy Niemann, R.N., triage nurse, while Latricia Maynard, R.N., worked behind the scenes.
UAMS’ new 540,000-square-foot, nearly $200 million hospital was built specifically to accommodate the Blackhawk, which weighs 22,000 pounds when fully loaded with five crew members and six patients.
The landing site was constructed to minimize noise and vibrations for hospital patients.
Most civilian medical evacuation helicopters weigh about half as much as the Blackhawk and can carry only one or two patients at a time.