Countywide ‘surge exercise’ coming to medical centers

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Countywide 'surge exercise' coming to medical centers
Photo by Kathy Chouteau.

Contra Costa Health (CCH) will join local hospitals, medical clinics and first-responder agencies for a countywide drill June 12-13.

The Medical Response and Surge Exercise (MRSE) simulates a disaster that tests the emergency response capabilities of participants. It is also an annual requirement for federal funding related to hospital emergency preparedness, according to CCH.

About 100 volunteers will play the role of patients exposed to a hazardous chemical during the exercise.

You might see unusual activity at acute-care hospitals like Kaiser Richmond, including a large number of ambulances or other emergency vehicles, staff members wearing personal protective gear or people play-acting injuries or illness.

Participating areas will be marked to let visitors know the activity is not a true emergency.

“We want the community to be aware of the exercise, so they do not mistake the first-responder activity around the county for a real emergency,” CCH Deputy Director Matt Kaufmann said.

In addition to Kaiser Richmond, participating hospitals include Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, John Muir Health’s Concord and Walnut Creek Hospitals, Sutter Delta Medical Center, San Ramon Regional Medical Center, and Kaiser Permanente’s hospitals in Antioch and Walnut Creek.

Also participating are Contra Costa Hazardous Materials Program and its Public Health and Emergency Medical Services divisions, numerous community organizations, skilled nursing facilities, fire departments and other public agencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency helped plan the exercise and will also help to oversee it.