Last week, Sarasota Memorial Hospital participated in a mass-casualty emergency drill planned by Sarasota County Emergency Management. The drill began with a simulated plane crash at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Dozens of volunteer “patients” were transported by ambulance to the hospital, feigning injuries such as smoke inhalation and burns.
I was invited to observe the drill as it unfolded at Sarasota Memorial, to see how Voalte smartphones could help bring order amid the chaos of a mass-casualty event. Since 2008, Voalte has been fortunate to count on our local hospital as a development partner. Only a few miles from our Sarasota, Florida, headquarters, Sarasota Memorial is committed to using the latest in healthcare technology, including mobile communication tools like Voalte One™ and Voalte Me™. In fact, Sarasota Memorial was the first hospital in the country to equip physicians and administrators with Voalte Me so they can communicate seamlessly both inside and outside the hospital.
At last week’s drill, I shadowed four Emergency Department nurses as they set up a triage unit in the parking garage across the street from the hospital’s Emergency entrance. Public safety officials guided “victims” through a decontamination shower before sending them on to triage, where the nurses assessed their condition. Despite the challenging Wi-Fi environment of the parking garage, nurses were able to use Voalte One to send text messages to colleagues in the Emergency Department, alerting them when patients were on the way. The potential for using Voalte One and Voalte Me in future drills and real-life emergency situations is enormous.
“The sky is the limit,” says Janet Steves, Director of Nursing Resources at Sarasota Memorial. “Now that we can communicate anywhere inside or outside the building, we can send a group text message calling in physicians and send an internal message alerting everyone inside the hospital of a mass casualty event. Everyone logged in to Voalte receives the message, and encryption ensures the communication stays secure.”
Like hospitals throughout the country, Sarasota Memorial participates in these and other drills regularly. As last week’s training concluded, the team of safety officers, emergency medical technicians and clinicians gathered to discuss what they learned and identify opportunities to improve their response in a real event. As I listened in, I felt confident that my local hospital is doing all it can to ensure the community’s well-being. As a member of the Voalte team, I felt proud that we’re doing our part to help doctors, nurses and support staff provide the best possible care.