Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, November 15, 2000
Emergency drill prepares School of Medicine for disaster


You may not remember the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that struck the Hayward fault at 7:30 a.m. last Thursday. And a mention of the subsequent explosion in a hospital lab may not ring any bells. It does seem like the following train derailment and tsunami would have been hard to miss, but all these events were simulated -- critical components of a disaster plan designed to keep the medical center functioning efficiently during a real emergency.

The exercise was part of a state-wide drill organized by the California Office of Emergency Services, and included participation by agencies at the city, county and state level. About 500 medical center staff members were involved in the drill. A parallel scenario was conducted at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

In Thursday's simulation, the emergency department was damaged by the earthquake, requiring medical staff to
set up shop in the hospital cafeteria. Volunteer "patients" with pale faces and dark bruises were wheeled in on gurneys for evaluation by medical staff. Staff members also practiced containing and reporting a formaldehyde spill in surgical pathology.

Last week's practice session was aimed at working out the kinks in the medical center's emergency preparedness plan. During a real emergency, medical center staff and students can get more information by calling the medical center's disaster hotline at 498-888. For information specific to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, call 497-888. For information about how to prepare for a disaster, email disaster preparedness coordinator Per Schenck at

In case of an accident or life-threatening situation, dial 286 from a medical center phone. Elsewhere on campus, dial 9-911.