Portland hospitals: We're ready for major quake

Portland hospitals: We're ready for major quake

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by Abbey Gibb

kgw.com

Posted on March 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 19 at 10:53 AM

PORTLAND -- Health workers at 15 hospitals in Portland's metro area said they would be expecting trauma patients in the thousands if a major 9.0 earthquake were to hit.

And all say they are prepared to handle the masses, if people can even get to them.

"I don't know if we can ever be completely prepared, but each drill we learn more and evolve our preparedness," said Judi Workman, OHSU's Nursing Division Director.

The hospitals hold coordinated and extensive drills they hold once a year together. To handle the onslaught, the hospitals have tents ready if and when they need to triage.

The state also requires each hospital to have a supply stockpile to last them 96 hours.

But will the buildings themselves be useable after such a massive quake? They say the state holds them to an extremely high standard, the same standard as the Japanese.

"They're steel structures that are designed to move with an earthquake, "said OHSU Healthcare Safety Officer Ben Richards. But most important, if the roads are destroyed, can anyone get to these hospitals?

"The geography has always been a challenge, "admits Richards. "It's a major vulnerability, especially during the wet season where rains have already softened the slopes. We may not be not be able to receive patients and therefore not be in service to a community that can’t get here."

Although other hospitals like Legacy Emanuel are prepared for that.

"We anticipate that maybe one or more of us (hospitals) could be knocked out and that well be on our own," said Legacy Safety and Security Director Aaron OLaoghaire-Sannes.

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