Brick First Responders Prepare for Emergency Drill At Ocean Medical Center
Full-scale emergency exercise will be held on Sunday at the hospital
The Black Hawk military helicopter that landed at Ocean Medical Center on Thursday morning isn't just for show. That aircraft, along with countless other pieces of equipment, will be used by first responders on Sunday as they conduct a full-scale emergency drill at the hospital.
The exercise scenario presents a major hurricane and power outage in Brick Township, leading the hospital to shelter-in-place and eventually evacuate, according to Brick Police Capt. John Rein. The drill, which is being called Operation Surf's Up, is being organized by the Brick Township Office of Emergency Management and Ocean Medical Center.
Sunday's drill will be one of the largest ever conducted in town, Rein said, though the treatment of actual patients at the medical center and those in the emergency department will continue as usual, without interruption of service while the drill is taking place.
Public service agencies throughout the community and state are also volunteering their time to participate in the exercise, which will involve individuals acting as patients. Participating agencies include: Brick Township Police EMS, Brick Township Bureau of Fire Safety, Breton Woods Fire Company, Herbertsville Fire Company, Laurelton Fire Company, Pioneer Hose Fire Company, Lakewood EMS, Lakewood Township Emergency Management, New Jersey EMS Task Force, Ocean County EMS Coordinator and the Ocean County Health Department. Other cooperating agencies include the New Jersey and Ocean County Offices of Emergency Management and numerous EMS squads from throughout the state.
“Drills and exercises sharpen our skills at the all levels,” said Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist. "The lessons learned and the practice makes the department better prepared to handle all hazards."
Bergquist said the police department and hospital officials have enjoyed a "great" relationship over the years, and the drill should strengthen that relationship.
In a twist, the drill comes just about a week after Bergquist acted as incident commander at an actual emergency situation at Ocean Medical Center. The hospital lost power following powerful storms on July 29, and emergency responders helped restore fuel to a backup generator that powered the facility's air conditioning systems. No patients had to be evacuated.
Sunday's exercise will also produce strategies that can be used beyond the borders of Brick and Ocean County, officials said.
"We expect to learn many valuable lessons and identify best practices that can then be shared with other regional hospitals," said Dean Q. Lin, Ocean Medical Center President.
The exercise is set to begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday.