Photo: Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital developed the “15 til 50” program which will be offered at every hospital in Los Angeles County.
A brand new emergency program developed by Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital has received multiple awards for its innovative approach, and will soon be available to every hospital in Los Angeles County.
“15 til 50” is a mass casualty incident exercise that gauges a hospital’s readiness in the case of a disaster, and is designed to result in a response time of being able to receive 50 or more patients in under 15 minutes.
“It’s never been done before,” said Terry Stone, emergency preparedness manager at Henry Mayo and co-creator of the project. “A hospital usually waits until they start receiving patients; well this program kind of flips that around so that immediately, as soon as you become aware of an incident in your community, you set up for 50 patients in 15 minutes.”
Multiple first-responder agencies like fire and law enforcement, as well as numerous hospital staff members from a variety of departments play a role in mass casualty incidents, which are usually handled based on what’s called a triage system to quickly sort patients according to the degree of their injuries.
“Because most hospitals operate at full capacity every day, it’s even more important that you’re able to make room for a surge of patients,” Stone said. “We (would) have an initial triage area where they’re basically assessed very quickly to four different categories.”
Critical patients with life-threatening injuries would be assessed as “immediate” (red), while those with non-life threatening injuries, such as a fracture, would be considered “delayed” (yellow). People with minor injuries, such as lacerations, would be placed in the “minor” (green) category.
“The last category is expectant/palliative care, and these are patients who pretty much are not expected to make it,” Stone said. “But they do need support, respect and privacy while they’re being cared for before they pass away.”
Instances the triage approach utilized by the “15 til 50” program would be necessary include an earthquake, mass shooting, explosion, fire, electrical storm, widespread food poisoning, pandemic and more.
“It can be used for anything, any type of incident,” Stone said. “Obviously the number one hazard in California is earthquakes.”
To date, “15 til 50” has been recognized for innovation in emergency management by the California Department of Public Health, California Emergency Services Association and Los Angeles Business and Industry Council for Emergency Planning and Preparedness.
A “toolkit” of resources necessary for other hospitals to replicate the program will soon be available through the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, and Stone has plans to present “15 til 50” to the National Association of Fire Prevention in Las Vegas, Nevada and the Joint Commission in New Orleans, Louisiana later this year.
“We’re trying to really market the materials so that hospitals are aware that it’s out there,” she said. “Usually you hear on the news every day about mass casualty incidents– for instance, the shooting in San Bernardino. … Every hospital needs to be doing this.”