Officials at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital want to make the facility a regional leader in emergency response to a large-scale disaster, including terrorist attacks or natural catastrophes.
The hospital has added cutting-edge decontamination showers and work stations to prepare for the potential surge in staff members and equipment necessary to respond to a mass emergency, said Starre Haney, regional disaster supervisor for Scottsdale Healthcare.
The hospital last year forged a relationship with the Arizona Air National Guard and created a pilot program to train military personnel in the community hospital. Hospital and military officials said the personnel could serve as backup to regional hospital, police and fire officials as first responders to a large-scale emergency.
In 2004, the hospital signed a memorandum of understanding with the Arizona Air National Guard and successfully trained a pilot group of 17 servicemen and women in trauma and emergency care, said Dr. Thomas L. Wachtel, trauma department medical director.
The personnel included physicians, nurses and technicians who were rotated through on weekends and in two-week stints to boost their knowledge in such areas as assessing patients, suturing procedures and treating wounds.
There are similar partnerships being forged between Air National Guard units and civilian hospitals in other states, including at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and at St. Louis University Medical Center, said Col. Randall Falk, medical doctor and director of medical services for the Air National Guard.
"We have several of these developing, but not at the level that Scottsdale (Osborn) is," he said.
"They have taken a look at what’s being done around the country . . . and they’ve taken it to the next level. They want to become a regional leader in this."
Scottsdale Healthcare will host its second national trauma conference, "Focus on Trauma: Dynamic Control of Trauma Uncertainty," March 3-5 at the Radisson Resort and Spa in Scottsdale.
About 300 people are expected to attend, said conference spokeswoman Felicia Thomas. Topics will include decontamination and treating mass casualty situations.
In a large-scale emergency, the Osborn emergency department could rapidly more than double its staff, bed capacity and equipment, Wachtel said.
The department treats an average of 200 patients daily, with eight or nine of them critically injured trauma patients, Wachtel said.
"I think we could probably up that (capacity) to 30 trauma patients a day and 300 to 400 emergency patients," he said.
Arizona Air National Guard personnel boost their skills by receiving thorough emergency room training that they might not otherwise get, especially because many work in nonmedical fields outside their guard service, said Col. Patrick Aiello, medical doctor and commander of the 161st Medical Group of the Arizona Air National Guard, which trained at Osborn hospital.
"The affiliation we have with the hospital allows us to have our people trained to deal with what you might call ‘wartime emergencies’ or mass casualty situations," Aiello said.
What: "Focus on Trauma: Dynamic Control of Trauma Uncertainty" conference
When: March 3-5
Where: Radisson Resort and Spa, 7171 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Information: (623) 594-6641. Fees vary based on registration as a physician, resident, nurse or paramedic, plus resort room rates.