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Volunteers prepare for emergencies

Perry Field House transformed into a temporary medical center last Thursday.

The Field House gym was filled with tables, 50 transportable beds, boxes of medical supplies, and between 75 and 100 volunteers creating a simulated Acute Care Center.

According to a press release for the event, an ACC is an urgent care center that can be set up to help treat minor or moderate illnesses or injuries if regional hospitals become full during a pandemic or major accident. Volunteers at Thursday’s event were training for possible emergency situations.

Thursday’s ACC was organized by the Wood County Health Department, Wood County Hospital, Northwest Ohio Hospital Council, and the Regional Medical Response System. Additional agencies involved with preparations for the event included the Wood County Medical Reserve Corps, Wood County EMA, American Red Cross, and the Ohio Region 1 Disaster Animal Response Team.

Eric Larson, the EMS outreach emergency planning coordinator for Wood County Hospital, said the majority of the participants were Medical Reserve Corps volunteers: retired and practicing nurses and doctors, professors, communication specialists, and clerical staff.

Thursday’s simulated accident was a tornado, which supposedly damaged houses and local nursing homes, causing the need for an ACC.

Some volunteers acted as patients who were displaced from nursing homes in Bowling Green due to the tornado.

One such volunteer was Linda Barbour, 61, a registered nurse who lives in Bowling Green and works at the Wood County Hospital. Barbour played an 87-year-old male named Lloyd Bridges, who lived at BG Manor and suffered from lung disease.

‘It’s extremely interesting,’ Barbour said while sitting on one of the transportable beds during the simulation.

Another volunteer was Nancy Wensink, 51, from Custar, Ohio. She acted as a 60-year-old diabetic male named Jed Clampett who came to the ACC from Blakely Care Center in Bowling Green.

‘I think this is wonderful,’ Wensink said about the event. ‘I think this just brings the community together as a whole.’

Even dogs were part of the exercise.

Pat Snyder, public health information technologies specialist for the Wood County Health Department, said participants brought six dogs to simulate displaced pandemic and accident victims not wanting to leave their pets behind.

‘The nation as a whole has been working to incorporate the needs of pet owners,’ Snyder said. ‘We know from cases like Katrina that people will not evacuate if they do not have a place for their pets to go.’

The animals at the event were taken to a tent outside the Field House where they were cared for by volunteers from the Ohio Region 1 Disaster Animal Response Team.

Dr. Emily Walton, a veterinarian and Hancock County Commissioner, said DART was set up to provide shelter and treatment for the animals, and even perform surgery if necessary.

‘It’s our own little M.A.S.H. unit,’ Walton said.

Walton said the simulation helped DART volunteers find ways to improve their response in the future, such as revamping their animal registration forms and becoming more organized.

Kathy Silvestri, Northwest Ohio Healthcare Systems coordinator, brought her dog, a Maltese-Shiatsu named Sparti Girl, to Thursday’s exercise.

Sparti Girl supposedly had a broken leg from the tornado, and Silvestri said it was a relief to know her pet was in the care of trained professionals.

‘What we’re hoping to get out of it … is that all of these volunteers here leave today feeling comfortable that we can do this in a real event,’ Snyder said.

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