Keesler Holds Major Disaster Drill

The National Disaster Medical System has been in place since 1988, but Wednesday, for the first time, they acted that plan out with pretend victims and all the logistics involved with getting them medical treatment.

At 1 p.m., an Air Force plane arrived at Keesler with 38 injured Airmen and women. In this scenario, they were hurt during a conflict in the Middle East. They've been treated on the scene, but upon arrival at Keesler, their conditions must be checked again.

"The air crew will give us some idea as to what condition they're in and then we'll just do a quick assessment as they're departing the plane as we're triaging them in the area here," Robert Vandergraaf, a triage doctor.

Keesler is the second largest Air Force Medical Facility in the world and so, if a large number of Americans were injured abroad, it's very likely Keesler would be called upon to treat the wounded.

There's no way Keesler could handle all of this alone. That's why Acadian and AMR were part of the drill, coordinating ambulances to take patients to seven coast hospitals. Even casino shuttles would be used to transport the so-called "walking wounded."

"With everybody working together, having common communications, knowing about the patient-types, it makes it easier to disseminate those patients to the various facilities and it's going well," said Steve Delahousey from AMR.

Throughout the day, 134 patients were unloaded, triaged and then transported. Officials at Keesler say they're proud of how smoothly the drill went.

"We've exercised the plan in the past, but it's been miniature scale exercises, but nothing this large has ever happened before," said Scott Thresher, the National Disaster Medical System Area Coordinator for Keesler.

This plan could also be put into effect if, for example, there was a major earthquake in California. If hospitals there were damaged, victims could be flown here for treatment. And with military and civilian medical teams working together, officials expect the coast could handle that.