Disaster drill at DIA chance to practice the ‘unthinkable’

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DENVER -- Nobody wants to think about it.  But if it happens, "...And if we don't prepare here, then if we have to be evacuated to somewhere else, and they haven't prepared, that could affect us," says Peggy Kearns, incident commander from the Denver branch of the National Disaster Medical System.

For three years the Denver Veterans Administration and numerous local emergency agencies in the metro area have been preparing for ..."what if." "What if there's a disaster.  An earthquake, a fire, a flood in another part of the country.  Can we help those people?"  asks Kearns.

Wednesday's scenario at a DIA hangar: an F4 tornado in western Kansas.  300 casualties and they're all coming do Denver, for help.

The victims are first received, categorized and sent to local hospitals.  Depending on condition of the patient, they'll either take an ambulance or a helicopter.

The exercise doesn't stop when they leave DIA. Eleven Denver metro hospitals are in on the training, too.  "They're drilling what they would do if they got an influx of patients from any kind of disaster,"  says Kearns.

The Denver branch of the National Disaster Medical System has never been activated for a real disaster, and, they say they would like to keep it that way.

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