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Jerry Tatum of Hamilton Medical Center and Claude Craig of Whitfield County Emergency Management address partners in Incident Command Center for GHA Region A Hospital DrillDalton (GA) May 8, 2014 Disaster rarely comes in the form of just one event. That is why hospitals and partnering agencies must be prepared to deal with widespread emergencies on multiple levels.

Today, Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton staged a full-scale drill to test response plans for evacuating the hospital due to an imaginary impending storm while a hypothetical chemical leak led to a sudden influx of patients to the hospital’s emergency room.

The full-scale drill was conducted in collaboration with several partnering agencies and Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) Region A hospitals, including Fannin Regional Hospital, Gordon Hospital, Hutcheson Medical Center, Murray Medical Center, North Georgia Medical Center and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. Hamilton Medical Center is the GHA Region A Coordinating Hospital.

This collaboration was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) funding for exercises and training. ASPR is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Partnering agencies for the GHA Region A drill included Dalton Fire Department, Dalton Police Department, Dalton State College, Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Hospital Association, Hamilton Emergency Medical Services, North Georgia Healthcare Partnership, North Georgia Health District, Northwest Georgia Health District, University of Georgia, Whitfield County Government, Whitfield County Office of Emergency Management, and Whitfield County Sheriff's Office.

“We want to thank our partners and volunteers,” said Jerry Tatum, Director of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for Hamilton Health Care System. “The drill went very well, especially considering we had never tested the evacuation side of our plans before. Now, we want to focus on improvements in education, communication and staff involvement so we can narrow any gaps that may exist in these areas.”