Hospitals prepare for the worst with emergency drills

PORTLAND, Ore. - Several Portland hospitals are running emergency training drills, simulating what it would be like if they were suddenly inundated with trauma patients.

Wednesday morning, doctors at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center got a call about an emergency situation. Details were scarce, but they had to act fast.

They sent up a tent for more room to work, and they needed it for all the patients who were about to come in.

"There was an explosion at the sea port and I think I heard gunshots," said a patient who had a large gash on his arm.

The injuries looked real, thanks to good makeup jobs. The high school students who took part really embraced their roles.

Providence Saint Vincent isn't a trauma hospital, but it becomes a trauma hospital if enough patients need help.

"Everyone's been handling it well. I just noticed the wheelchairs don't fit into the tents so that's a problem," said nurse Lauren Carpenter. "We just brought in the stretchers and loaded the patients at the door."

"The team's really coming together and responding very well," said Michael Kubler, who leads emergency management for hospitals in the Portland area.

The drill will last three days. Thursday, Providence Portland Medical Center is scheduled to take part. Doctors and nurses there will pick up from where Wednesday's story ends.

Kubler said the purpose of the drill is to help doctors and nurses be better prepared for a situation they hope they'll never have to handle.

"This is the sort of thing they went into medicine to do," he said.