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CAMC, other hospitals, to conduct emergency drills Thursday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There won't really be a gunman at CAMC General hospital Thursday, but hospital staff will learn what to do in that scenario. 

Hospital staffers and employees from 12 other hospitals in several counties will also participate in emergency planning exercises today.

The active shooting training will take place in CAMC General's maintenance area, away from areas where patients are being cared for, said Lillian Morris, corporate director for safety at CAMC.

Officers from the Charleston Police Department and the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department will role-play the "bad guys," using fake blue guns, Morris said.

Charleston residents will notice many police cars near Morris and Brooks streets, where General sits. Traffic may be slow on Brooks Street, she said.  

"There will be a lot of police presence, a lot of police cars," Morris said.

Similar trainings about different situations will take place at other CAMC facilities, too. Women and Children's Hospital will prepare for an infectious-disease scenario, and CAMC Memorial Hospital will have a transportation-accident exercise.

In addition to area law enforcement, volunteers from the Children's Theatre of Charleston and Garnet Career Center will help with CAMC's training exercises, Morris said.

The training exercises are a part of the federally funded Hospital Preparedness Program administered through the West Virginia Hospital Association.

This year's training will center on incidents that could happen during the Boy Scout Jamboree planned for July 15 through 24 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Fayette County.

Officials are expecting 40,000 Boy Scouts and more than 100,000 visitors to the area over the 10-day period, Morris told the CAMC board of directors on Tuesday.

As a result, hospitals in the area are preparing for more patients during that time, said Samantha Stamper, emergency preparedness director for the West Virginia Hospital Association.

"They are certainly expecting an increase in patients, both from the Jamboree and staff but also ... because of the increase in population with family and tourists that will be in the southern part of the state and Charleston," Stamper said.

Stamper added that people from her office as well as the state's Center for Threat Preparedness have coordinated meetings with officials from hospitals where a higher number of patients are expected.

The Boy Scouts will have medical personnel on site to handle minor injuries, Morris said.

During its last Jamboree, more than 700 patients were transported to area hospitals. Of those, 300 patients were admitted to local hospitals, according to information from the Boy Scouts, Morris said.

Morris said the hospital chose to conduct the preparedness exercises in the morning because there are likely to be fewer patients at the hospital at that time.

"What we do is plan exercises for a time that's less busy for us," she said. "We monitor all the activity at each of the locations. If there's a lot of patients we can stop the drill at any time.

"We're always looking at patient safety first."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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