University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations


June 11 , 2003


USA Medical Center personnel examine a "patient" admitted in the June 10 Lifesaver 2003 Homeland Security exercise. From left, Lori Prewitt, R.N.; Dr. Michael Sternberg, assistant director of emergency medicine; Lorie Davis, R.N.; and, left background, Lisa Archie, R.N.

The University of South Alabama Medical Center and USA Knollwood Hospital participated June 10 in Lifesaver 2003, a major Homeland Security National Disaster Medical System exercise. USA Children's and Women's Hospital is scheduled to take part in the drill June 11.

The two-day exercise is based on a "what if" scenario. It supposes that operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom resulted in substantial casualties, rather than the relatively few actually sustained. Under the exercise scenario, casualties from the conflicts overwhelm the capabilities of the overseas medical facilities and traditional Department of Defense facilities in the United States. As a result, the president, in coordination with the departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, activates the NDMS.

"Our hospitals are already prepared for disaster responsiveness," said Stan Hammack, senior hospital administrator. "This was an excellent opportunity to coordinate with other local and regional agencies and demonstrate our readiness." SouthFlite, USA's aeromedical transport helicopter, also participated in the exercise.

The NDMS, established in 1988, has never been activated for a wartime contingency operation. Operation Iraqi Freedom would have been the first use of the NDMS.

The exercise is testing transportation and health care capabilities in Mobile; Pensacola, Fla.; and Gulfport, Miss., while working under a joint military/civilian command. Up to 300 "wounded" patients were scheduled to be processed and triaged at airport patient reception areas in each city, and then sent to NDMS hospitals such as USA Medical Center, USA Knollwood Hospital and USA Children's and Women's Hospital. At Mobile's patient reception area, located at Brookley Field, University personnel who are members of the Alabama 3 Disaster Medical Assistance Team participated in the exercise.


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