Henry Ford Hospitals hold mock tornado disaster drill

Tornado drill brings Detroit-area hospitals together to prepare for the unthinkable

DETROIT - If a major tornado hit Metro Detroit, hospitals would be faced with many casualties.

But what if the tornado hit the hospital?

On Tuesday, a mock tornado drill brought local hospitals together to prepare for the unthinkable.

The announcement was given, "attention all personnel, the national weather service has issued a tornado watch until 3 p.m.," and with that, operation Toto began at Henry Ford Macomb Physical Rehabilitation Center.

"It's unthinkable for many people. Living in the world I live in, that's what we think about every day and we would never want to have to evacuate a hospital, we would never want to have a Joplin occur here like we had in Missouri. However, that's the reality of living in Michigan and the more we are prepared the better, " said Melissa Jackson, regional manger of EMS programs and emergency management for Henry Ford Hospitals. "We always need an opportunity to exercise disaster plans, hospital evacuation plans. Because we have some limited patients here at the hospital and we do have some open units and we thought it was a perfect opportunity for us to do the type of disaster drill that we can't normally do in a occupied hospital."

A 1/2 hour after the mock tornado watch was issued, the drill got more serious.

After all patients -- who were played by actors -- were in safe locations, after the tornado passed, staff then rushed upstairs to discover that their hospital had been hit.

"We have many local hospitals from Oakland, St. Clair and Macomb counties participating. We have the state level participating, we have emergency management form the community participating and we have several community members who have come out today to be players and patients in out excessive," said Jackson.

During the drill the generator failed, and the entire ER was in in the dark, with staff trying to manage the situation by flashlight.

In the end, the hospital was deemed so severely damaged that the patients had to be moved to somewhere else. 

Today's drill showed that local hospitals have a plan in place should the unthinkable happen.

Other mock disaster drills in the news.

Signal flares will be seen over Selfridge during drill.

Detroit teens learn how to save lives.

Mock disaster scheduled to hit Taylor.

Plane crash simulation exercise set for western Michigan county.

Copyright 2012 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.