DSI Conducts Mass Casualty Full Scale Exercise for the Pinellas Coalition for Health and Medical Preparedness

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -  Under contract to the Pinellas Coalition for Health and Medical Preparedness (CHAMPS), DSI conducted a large, full scale exercise of Pinellas County hospital system’s ability to respond to a complex mass casualty incident involving a chemical spill, accident-related trauma and a mix of victim ages and acuities. A total of over 100 individuals participated in this exercise.  Along with thirteen (13) county hospitals of varying sizes, emergency management, EMS, Fire Rescue and DOH in Pinellas County participated as responding or coordinating elements of this exercise. A mix of moulaged ‘victims’ and notional victims were delivered to Pinellas County hospitals on April 6, 2016, to test the capability and capacity of those hospitals to triage, decontaminate, treat and identify appropriate bed availability for each victim that exceeded the normal capacity of that hospital. In addition, Pinellas EMS exercised two (2) its new ambubus units in supporting a mass casualty incident. EM and DOH-Pinellas exercised their coordinating function for patient movement and volunteer coordination.

The exercise scenario centered on a chlorine leak and gas cloud, as the potential impact of chlorine gas accidents is enormous. In the United States alone, there are more than 13–14 million tons of chlorine produced annually and much of it of this is transported by rail through urban areas to thousands of sites around the country.
The exercise simulated a CSX 50 car train of mixed chemicals, including 20 tank cars of liquid chlorine, leaving the tracks just west of the US Highway 19 overpass causing a derailment of most of the train. Many of the chlorine tank cars were breached and began leaking liquid chlorine. Each tank car has a capacity of over 18,000 gallons of liquid chlorine. The derailment caused a partial collapse of the US 19 overpass already packed with morning rush hour traffic. Several vehicles, including a school bus, crashed on the collapsed overpass. Many other vehicles in both north and southbound lanes of US 19 were involved in chain-reaction collision. There were multiple fatalities and many traumatic injuries.  The derailment also blocked traffic at the intersection of NE Coachman Road and Old Coachman Road. No casualties reported, but traffic is backed up for quite a distance in all directions.  Almost immediately after the derailment, social media began publishing photos and reports and Bay News 9 begins reporting the accidents and news helicopters begin feeding video of the scene to local outlets.  Within a very few minutes Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, ESPN2 and other national stations begin news crawl with social media reports from scene under helicopter footage.
Exercise Participants included the following:  All Children’s Hospital, Bayfront Medical Center, Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, Bardmoor Emergency Center, St. Anthony’s Hospital, Florida Hospital—North Pinellas, Palms of Pasadena Hospital, Largo Medical Center, Largo Medical Center—Indian Rocks, Clearwater Emergency Room, Northside Hospital, The Department of Health in Pinellas County, Pinellas County Emergency Management, Pinellas County Fire Rescue

 DSI received outstanding comments and extremely positive feedback/rankings from exercise participants.  In announcing this successful exercise, DSI CEO Joe Myers said, “DSI was honored to partner with Pinellas CHAMPS on this large and complex exercise and very happy with the successful outcome.  We know that the exercise had a significant impact on public safety and the well-being of Pinellas County residents.  This is the type of practical and important exercise should be conducted in all jurisdictions.”

Gloria Perryman