NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Long before the winds rage and the storm surge rushes in, emergency preparedness crews are watching the radar, preparing for the worst mother nature has in store.
That includes a little over a dozen people in this hushed conference room at HCA.
“Usually 120 hours out from impact, we start to plan,” said Mike Wargo, Vice President for Enterprise Preparedness and Emergency Operations for HCA Healthcare.
It’s in a Nashville room that he and his colleagues take in reports from HCA hospitals, law enforcement, social media and their own weather-tracking service to determine the best course of action for the dozens of HCA facilities in the potential impact zone for Dorian.
“We bring in additional generators. We move out high-risk patients. In some cases, we may evacuate. In this case, we didn’t. We de-risked, meaning we moved those high-risk patients to other areas,” said Wargo of their response to Dorian along the Florida coast.
With 185 hospitals spanning from Alaska to Florida, Wargo said the room is activated five to eight times each year, helping coordinate responses for everything from hurricanes to mass shootings, and doing some problem solving along the way.
“Post-Harvey, we had to go over land, over water to deliver supplies and equipment (in Houston),” said Wargo. “We appropriated duck boats from San Antonio. We moved supplies through those duck boats.”
While Wargo said patient care is their No. 1 priority, they are also mindful of their employees.
He said HCA has specially-trained nurses who can work in multiple facilities who may be brought in to relieve the staff at the Florida hospitals so that those employees can deal with personal hurricane recovery.
For now, their focus is on their hospitals along the East Coast, preparing to send aid to their staff and patients who could be impacted by Dorian’s wrath.