Hospital tents up and fully functional as part of disaster drill |

Hospital tents up and fully functional as part of disaster drill

F.T. Norton
Appeal staff reporter
Amy Lisenbe/Nevada AppealStacey Belt, public health emergency planner for Carson City Health and Human Services, right, gives a tour of the city's newly purchased mobile medical facility.

As part of Vigilant Guard, a joint emergency preparedness exercise, mobile field hospitals able to treat hundreds of patients were set up in the north parking lot of Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center on Monday.

“We did this to test the capability for us to support a medical surge,” said Stacey Belt, public health planner for Carson City Health and Human Services.

Belt said that in the event of a disaster in which hundreds of people were injured, or if the hospital were destroyed, the state-of-the-art tents would be put into use to care for the injured.

A 200-bed tent, belonging to the Nevada State Health Division, had a fully equipped 20-bed intensive-care unit, 180 medical beds, a 20-bed emergency room and trauma center, operating suite, portable digital X-Ray and lab, self-sufficient oxygen generator and staff housing for 150. The three conjoined tents are able to sustain winds of 100 mph.

According to Justin Reynolds, State of Nevada health and emergency preparedness evaluator for the Department of Health and Human Services, the tent used in Carson City was the same one deployed to care for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Belt said the city’s 24-bed unit is easily assembled by six people in just over four hours. The larger unit took some 15 hours to fully assemble.

“Most cities aren’t able to do this,” she said.

Vigilant Guard is a full-scale emergency preparedness drill designed to test, sharpen and evaluate the skills and coordination of local, state and federal civilian response agencies and National Guard units from Nevada and several Western states, including Hawaii.

The exercise scenario simulates a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on the Mount Rose junction.

All U.S. states are required by the federal government to participate in Vigilant Guard exercises to improve preparedness and enhance skills for responding to an emergency or disaster. Funding for the exercise comes from the Department of Homeland Security. Nevada’s Vigilant Guard exercise, the 11th to be staged across the country, received a federal allocation of $1.5 million for the National Guard and Division of Emergency Management mobilization. Carson, Storey, Lyon, Douglas and Washoe counties participated in the exercise that began June 12 and runs through Thursday.