Emergency Response Training 
Shannon Downing     
Monday, 01 December 2008 
 
 
 
    Joe DeSchryver, Chief Operating Officer at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center has a better understanding of what a major natural disaster or terrorist attack would mean to the state of California. In November, DeSchryver spent an entire week at March Air Force Reserve Base in Riverside as part of the largest combined earthquake drill in United States history. 
    Operation Golden Guardian was a state-wide drill designed to test disaster preparedness and response. More than five thousand emergency responders took part in the event, led by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 
    “Joe’s participation in this event shows Sierra Vista’s commitment to provide emergency medical and trauma services to our community when needed,” said Candy Markwith, Chief Executive Office at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. “Joe and I both agreed his attendance would be a valuable asset to the hospital and underscores our commitment to a county trauma system.” 
    DeSchryver was part of a select group of hospital administrators asked to run the incident command center at a state-owned mobile field hospital. Select Tenet Hospitals and Scripps Hospitals in San Diego were the only two civilian hospitals that took part in the training. 
    “We were charged with assessing resources and running the hospital during a simulated 7.5+ earthquake,” said DeSchryver. “We received over 130 patients via ambulance during a four hour time frame.” 
    Patients who presented with fake injuries were comprised of volunteers from around the state. Hollywood make-up artists were even brought in to help make the wounds look as real as possible.
 
 
    “Everyone took the event very seriously,” said DeSchryver. “The stress levels were extremely high, just as they would be during an actual disaster. It was as real as a drill could get.” 
    Emergency response is nothing new to DeSchryver, who went through three hurricanes while serving as chief operating officer at West Boca Medical Center in Florida. In that role he oversaw the hospital’s incident command center that helped mobilize resources throughout the disaster. 
    DeSchryver said the practice deployment of the mobile field hospital in Riverside provided additional experience for himself and other medical personnel. As part of his role in the Hospital Administration Support Unit, the State Emergency Medical Services Agency asked for his feedback on the drill, especially in areas where he saw room for improvement. 
    “While a lot of time, money and resources have been spent on disaster preparedness, nothing can ever prepare you fully for the real thing,” said Deschryver. “That’s why it’s so important that we as a community, continue to develop our communication skills and trauma response protocols then test those protocols and make improvements.” 
    There are three mobile field hospitals in existence, all within California. They can be set up independently or collectively to hold up to 650 beds, including an operating room, emergency room, trauma unit, intensive care unit, medical-surgical unit and morgue.