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L.A. County hospitals, clinics conduct disaster drill

April 26, 2013|By Anna Gorman

Less than two weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings, several Los Angeles County hospitals and clinics conducted a disaster drill to test whether healthcare officials are prepared for such an emergency.

At Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, organizers simulated a bomb in the parking structure that resulted in several pretend deaths and dozens of fake injuries, including internal bleeding, bone fractures and an amputation.

Hospital employees and nursing students wore detailed makeup to look as though they were injured, and employees quickly set up a triage area with red, yellow and green tarps. Fire trucks, ambulances and paramedics responded to the fake scenario, and doctors simulated administering pain medication and inserting IVs.

"It really, really helps for training," said Christian Cannady, simulation technician at the UCLA School of Nursing. "It's extremely real."

Cannady said the disaster drill was even more important after the blasts in Boston. "L.A. County is a huge target," he said. "This could very well happen here."

Emergency room Dr. Arlene Vernon said the exercise also helps improve communication among firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses. "We're practicing the teamwork," she said. "Putting on one of these scenarios is labor intensive...but it is the only way to even come close to simulating the chaos of a real disaster."

Nursing student Adriana Dejesus said she has seen bombings on television, but acting it out made it a lot more real. She pretended that she had cuts, and that she was separated from her family.

"To participate is to really understand it better," she said.

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Twitter: @annagorman

anna.gorman@latimes.com

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