Disaster Drill Helps VA Salt Lake and Community Partner Prepare for National Disaster | Salt Lake City Virginia Health Care

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This is what the preparation looks like. That’s what it takes to be ready. You have to know how to manage the unthinkable; the last two years have taught us that.

The VA Salt Lake City Health System and community partners conducted a mass training exercise at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

While caring for our nation’s veterans is our number one mission, the VA is also there to enhance the nation’s preparedness to respond to war, terrorism, national emergencies, and natural disasters.

The scenario for this exercise involved a massive earthquake hitting Alaska, overwhelming the state’s health care system. Our mission was to offload an Air Force aircraft, triage and transport patients to local hospitals, while tracking not only patients, but all family members traveling with them and even their service animals. .

“It gives us the opportunity to work with our community partners and exercise. So when we have an actual event, we’re prepared and we’re ready,” said Dr. Angela Williams, Acting VA Director. Salt Lake. City health system.

VA Salt Lake City Healthcare System is the lead agency for the Salt Lake City Federal Coordinating Center of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). It is one of 54 VA Federal Coordination Centers across the country ready to respond to national disasters.

“[The Department of] Health and Human Services is the overall lead for the NDMS, but they know the VA runs these federal coordination centers. HHS relies on the VA for this,” said Gregory McQuaide, VA emergency manager in Salt Lake City.

Preparing for the exercise takes time, but the effort pays off not only for the exercise, but also if the Salt Lake FCC is on.

“That’s all we do outside of this exercise: the relationships we’ve built with our community partners, and we always make sure we have good hospital touchpoints, state touchpoints, at the as people come and go, making sure to maintain those relationships,” McQuaide says.

“A lot of people don’t see AV as playing with our communities in emergency management because they don’t realize that’s one of our core missions,” Williams said. “It’s another way of letting them know that the VA, yes, we care for veterans, but we’re available to care for civilians and our community partners when we need them.”

VA Salt Lake hosts the National Disaster Medical System exercise annually.


See more photos from the exercise on our Facebook page.

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