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Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital Helps Make History In Bolivia

June 07, 2012

Augusta, GA – The Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital is the largest burn center in America, and most recently it has become a key player in Bolivia’s history; with the design and execution of the nation’s first emergency disaster drill.

“It was an extremely interesting trip,” says Cynthia Marshall, RN, for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital and who took part in the drill, “I could tell that we made an impact on their disaster preparedness for a large-scale disaster.”   

The group of medical professionals, including physicians and nurses, spent one week in Bolivia.  Upon their arrival, they toured the metal plant where the drill would take place.  The JMS healthcare team worked directly with plant employees as well as the Bolivian military, creating an extensive and detailed plan of how the drill would operate from planning to evaluation.   The plan included precise details including the location of the mock disaster within the plant as well as the placement of triage stations throughout the facility.

“The day of the drill we used makeup to simulate realistic burn wounds on 63 victims portrayed by members of the military.  Each person had a different wound in different locations to help emulate a real disaster scenario,” says Marshall.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” says Dr. Richard Cartie, Pediatric physician on staff at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital and physician participant in the drill, “the city where the drill was held only has four ambulances for the entire residential population.  Healthcare certainly operates differently there.”

Once the drill was complete, the JMS team spent several days debriefing plant operators as well as the Bolivian military.  They discussed what went well with the drill and what could be improved upon in the future.  A list of recommendations were made and turned over to assist the plant with improvements and further preparations should a large-scale disaster ever occur.  

“This trip was enlightening from the standpoint that I think we, as United States citizens, sometimes take for granted all of the amenities that we have in our hospitals and the tools that we have at our finger tips every single day that are essential when saving a life,” says Dr. Cartie.