The Reason Why Medical Teams Have Disaster Drills

Date: November 7, 2012 Media Contact: Chuck Moran
Pennsylvania Medical Society
For Immediate Release (717) 558-7820


The following is an opinion editorial by C. Richard Schott, MD. Dr. Schott is president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) and a practicing cardiologist from suburban Philadelphia.

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, but she’s left a path of problems for many residents in her way including power outages and flooding that lasted days afterward. Some lives were lost and many more were disrupted.

Emerging from Hurricane Sandy’s visit to Pennsylvania are stories about the medical response of our hospitals and medical teams, including physicians and nurses. These stories should build confidence in Pennsylvania’s health care network in the face of an emergency.

I’ve heard all types of stories that lead me to believe that the preparation our medical community takes to practice disaster situations paid off.

For example, hospitals without power relied on generators to perform emergency surgeries and to maintain life support in critical care units. Others worked closely with neighboring hospitals to transfer patients to ensure their safe recovery.

According to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, procedures interrupted at one hospital facing a power outage were rerouted to another hospital for successful completion.

We’re fortunate that Pennsylvania’s medical community comes together during an emergency so that patients get the care they need. Many slept over and worked extra shifts to assure that patients’ needs would be provided. We’re fortunate that health care professionals and hospitals are prepared and willing to make the extra effort when a disaster strikes.

But, this doesn’t just happen by chance.

It may sometimes feel redundant, but the many drills that are staged and the pre-disaster planning that takes place within the medical community is really the story behind the story.

And for all they do, my hat goes off to the physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals for taking the time to prepare for the worst, and to step up to the plate when that need arises.

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The patient-doctor relationship has been the priority of the Pennsylvania Medical Society since its founding in 1848. To learn more about the Pennsylvania Medical Society, visit the web site at