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National Guard training with local hospitals for COVID-19 patient surge

Transfer of patients is the focus
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 18:38:44-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Anticipating a possible surge in COVID-19 patients, the Indiana National Guard is working with local hospitals to develop what are called "interagency pandemic responses."

Simply put, recent training exercises involving the guard and Ascension St. Vincent Hospital on the Indianapolis north side
worked how to move stable patients already in the hospital to other medical facilities in order to make room for COVID-19 patients, should it be necessary.

According to the guard, the training helped create a plan to prevent exhaustion of a hospital's resources in the event of a patient surge and will become a model for similar trainings across the state

"We're honored to take the lead on the fully integrated effort among all health systems and the state government to prepare for a potential surge," said Jonathan Nalli, Senior Vice President, Ascension.

The recent exercise began with a communication and transportation rehearsal along with patient preparation. Next, soldiers and medical personnel practiced transferring patients from hospital beds to transport stretchers that were then loaded into the back of military and government vehicles. No actual patients were involved in the exercise.

"COVID-19 has definitely taught us new lessons. We have to be acutely aware of a potential surge, and we must have plans to accommodate that," said Jane Whinnery, Vice President of Trauma and Emergency Transportation Sevices at Ascension St. Vincent.

"As National Guard members, we are here to serve our communities, so this training is exactly that," 2nd Lt. Ryan Ball, Evacuation Platoon Leader for Company C, 113th Brigade Support Battalion. "It feels right working with them, developing these operating procedures, and letting them know that we are here to support the community."