RUMFORD – Involving Rumford, Peru, Andover, Dixfield and Mexico fire departments, the police and Med Care Ambulance Service, Rumford Hospital’s state-mandated annual disaster drill was a complex operation.

Only the hospital’s safety officer, Doug West, his assistant, Linda Blais, Nurse Manager Diane York, Rumford Fire Department’s Keith Bickford and Med Care Director Dean Milligan were privy to the several scenarios involved in the drill.

Disaster “victims” – hospital staff members and volunteers from Mountain Valley High School’s Drama Club – were briefed on their roles.

Other participants – nurses and other hospital staff, firefighters and EMTs, although aware that a drill was scheduled, were not told what kind of a disaster to expect or any of the situations that would develop from the disaster.

As smoke filled the third floor of the hospital, maintenance staffer Dan Bulger climbed the narrow, steep stairway to the plant control center on the hospital roof. There he suffered a “heart attack.” Firefighters were faced with bringing him off the roof using Rumford’s ladder truck.

Several “patients,” played by MVHS students, were “trapped” on the third floor because the elevators are not useable in a fire. Firefighters transported them down a flight of stairs, some in wheelchairs, some in specialized carriers.

One “patient,” hospitalized with a stroke, had not been evacuated from his room. After attracting firefighters’ attention through an open window, he was rescued with a ground ladder, a firefighter carefully positioning his feet on each rung.

In yet another part of the hospital, staff member Chad Hickey, playing a 9-year-old boy, had to be carried down another set of stairs by firefighters.

Following the drill, participants sat down for a critique of the evening’s work. “This drill’s main purpose was to start practicing the Incident Command System with outside organizations and internal staff on each floor,” said West. “The Incident Command System is a modern way of communicating during a disaster and is new to all of us.”

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