Fox Valley Hospitals Participate in "Dark Sky" Emergency Preparedness Exercise

Mass power outage simulation helps hospitals and partners develop unified response to emergencies

June 15, 2018

Following two years of planning, hospitals and hundreds of Fox Valley Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition members participated in an emergency preparedness exercise that simulated a mass power outage covering more than a third of the state. Known as "Dark Sky," the exercise was run May 15-17 in several areas of the state.

In the Fox Valley, the exercise began with a decoy bus accident where first responders were called to the scene. As hospitals received multiple simulated bus-accident patients to triage and transfer, exercise participants were introduced to a new variable: a mass power outage that extended the duration of the exercise.

Hospitals had to determine how long they could operate with back-up generator power, and on the second day of the exercise, participated in a table-top exercise to identify gaps in their utility plans. The exercise’s final day included a full-scale hospital evacuation, with Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh evacuating patient actors to many of the other hospitals in the region.

"Training, networking, and exercising is the key to success in any disaster," said Tracey Froiland, coordinator of the Fox Valley Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition. "’Dark Sky’ was an event that maximized our resources and allowed us, in real time, to work with all of our health care partners to help our communities be better prepared."

The Fox Valley Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition is a group of health care organizations and emergency preparedness and response partners (e.g., hospitals, EMS, trauma, and public health) in the Fox Valley that collaborate to execute a uniform and unified response to mass casualty incidents and other emergencies. The Coalition receives funding and support from the Wisconsin Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program (WHEPP), which is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in partnership with WHA and other stakeholders to support emergency preparedness planning and response.

For more information:

Visit WHA’s Emergency Preparedness webpage for helpful resources.

This story originally appeared in the June 15, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter