Hospitals Train for Disasters - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Hospitals Train for Disasters

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- Emergency personnel and hospitals in Boston were prepared for a disaster like the marathon bombings. In fact disaster response is something hospitals around the country prepare for.

At Gundersen Lutheran emergency plans are worked on constantly and each doctor and staff person has a designated role so they can accommodate the most patients. They run drills all types of natural and man-made disasters, and even have volunteers act as the patients.

"And it's not just the doctors and the nurses at the scene," said Dr. Ben Wedro, an emergency doctor at Gundersen Lutheran. "We're at the front of the hospital where people see us, but we're not the most important people sometimes. We need people in central supply to make sure that equipment is there and it's sterilized and ready to go. It's important that laundry is there to clean things, housekeeping has to clean the rooms so the next patient can be put there. It's more than just the doctors and nurses, it's more than just the lab techs, it's more than just radiology, it's everybody."

The analogy Dr. Wedro gave is marathon runners train for months for one specific day, like emergency doctors train constantly. They just don't know when the day comes they have to utilize that training.

The emergency manager at Gundersen says even though crews prepare, it's hard to watch fellow emergency workers go through something like that.

"It's heart wrenching to watch what they're going through," said Tom Wright. "A lot of us who work in the incident command system have been involved in various levels of medicine where we've been in the boots of the individuals. The paramedics and the firefighters on the street, a lot of us did those prior to what we do in the hospital. Personally, as a paramedic for 30 years, I've been involved with some high stress incidents and you can't help but think, 'Oh Golly, what's going through their mind right now."

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