When a busload of preschoolers was involved in a car crash in east Merced on Sept. 10, Mercy Medical Center was ready.
Luckily, none of the children on the bus was seriously hurt. But all the students were taken to Mercy, where the staff's training took over.
"We heard about the crash around 5 p.m.," recalled Susi Roberts, lead nurse in the emergency department that Friday.
Because the hospital preps for an incident such as a bus crash, the staff was ready.
"We've had training for all types of events," said Philip Brown, director of the emergency room. "We set up staging areas as soon as we heard about the event."
A triage area, where injuries could be assessed, was set up inside the emergency department, and an area outside of the emergency room doors was set up for parents.
"The patients were triaged in the field, and also in the hospital," Roberts said.
As soon as the hospital heard about the accident, people were put on pre-alert status in case the injuries were more severe than first thought. The emergency room fielded enough staff, and Roberts said nurses and doctors who weren't on duty were alerted in case they had to be called in.
April Brewer, director of regulatory compliance at Mercy, said the hospital goes through scenario training throughout the year.
"We've done earthquake drills, mass influenza events, even prepared for a derailed train," Brewer said.
If a large-scale event happened in Merced, the hospital and the county Office of Emergency Services would coordinate resources, Brewer said.
Brewer said when Mercy moved patients to its new hospital on May 2, the county used the move as a drill.
"We had the fire department, police department and the county working with us that day," Brewer said.
Because small children were part of last Friday's accident, one of the hospital's priorities was to make sure parents were reunited with their children as quickly as possible.
"We had staff with every child, and in the staging areas," Roberts said.
"It was a scary time for the kids," Brown said. "We had to have a calm environment because we know the kids were fearful. We took care of their fear as well as their medical conditions."
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.