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Local Hospitals Prepared If Natural Disasters Hit Them

By Selena Hernandez, CBS 11 News
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Joplin Tornado

CBS DFW (con't)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – One of the most striking images of destruction in Joplin, Missouri Sunday was the decimation of Saint John’s Regional Medical Center. Four people died when the hospital took a direct hit.

In North Texas, many area hospitals say they have emergency plans in place when severe weather threatens.

At Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Monday’s threat of severe weather with large hail, triggered a “Code Gray.” The staff was on alert and the shades were drawn.

“That’s a concern for us because hail against a window could mean a broken window,” Parkland’s Director of Trauma and Disaster Jorie Klein said.  “In a hospital, a broken window in a patient’s room could mean potential harm to a patient.”

The devastating images in Joplin resonate with North Texas hospital officials – as staff knows Mother Nature is unpredictable and can strike anywhere at any time.

“All of the staff have been trained from physicians to the physical therapists to the housekeeping – everyone knows that’s what their role is – to move those patients out,” Klein said.

Parkland’s plan calls for patients to be taken out of the rooms and into the hallways away from windows, especially when a tornado is imminent. Emergency drills are practiced frequently and evacuation bags are located on every floor – they’re equipped with essential items for staff and patients.

“We have glo-sticks in case it’s dark and we have to light the perimeter,” Klein said.

During severe weather events, the primary objective of all North Texas hospitals is to ensure the safety of its patients, staff and visitors.

At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, a hospital command center is on site and ready to go in the event a devastating storm blows across the area.

“In the event we have to evacuate we have plans in place, we have great mutual aid – we drill frequently for evacuations for weather or other events,”  Wendy Barrow of Texas Health Fort Worth said.

“We hope that never happens here – but we do feel we’re prepared in the event we’re made aware of severe weather in the immediate vicinity.”

All hospitals in the state are required to follow the same preparedness guidelines and conduct regular disaster drills.

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