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Hospitals enact emergency plans to deal with disaster

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Minutes after an explosion rocked a southside neighborhood, area hospitals started mobilizing for the worst.

Hospital crews started preparing beds, supplies and blood in case ambulances started flooding the emergency room with wounded patients. Officials contacted emergency workers to get constant updates on the extent of the damage. Extra doctors and nurses were paged and put on call in case of a massive influx of people.

In the end, the extra work wasn’t needed.

The explosion killed two people and left seven others with minor injuries.

After the explosion, four people were taken to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis with non-life threatening injuries, spokeswoman Allison Hoyt said.

Cuts were the most common injury treated. Those four patients were released this morning, Hoyt said.

Franciscan St. Francis Health briefly admitted one person for minor cuts and abrasions, and that person drove to the emergency room himself, hospital spokesman Joe Stuteville said.

The disaster tested the emergency preparedness of local hospitals and proved why officials stress training for emergency scenarios. In order to be ready for a catastrophic event, hospitals have to plan throughout the year.

“It’s the nature of emergency responders to be prepared, and paramount to any situation such as what we had last night,” Stuteville said on Sunday.

Community Hospital South and Johnson Memorial Hospital did not treat anyone from the explosion.

The explosion was felt at Franciscan St. Francis Health at Stop 11 Road and Emerson Avenue, where windows rattled, Stuteville said. Once hospital officials found out what happened, the staff went into alert mode.

Off-duty doctors and nurses were put on call as backup, if needed.

Officials contacted the Indianapolis fire and police departments to monitor the aftermath of the explosion. The hospital also contacted Marion County’s MESH Coalition, a public-private partnership that helps government agencies and health care providers.

The group had worked on wide-scale disaster training throughout the year, drilling staff members on what to do in response to a large fire, natural disaster or explosions such as this.

Doctors and nurses trained on how to handle a massive influx in patients at one time, had a plan in place to make extra blood and other supplies ready, and a plan to make sure beds were available.

Community Hospital South went through similar preparations when news of the explosion reached them, spokeswoman Gail Sweitzer said. Even though no one was brought to the hospital’s emergency room, people were on-call and ready if needed.

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