Joint emergency preparedness exercise to create a 40-bed temporary hospital unit

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Joint emergency preparedness exercise to create a 40-bed temporary hospital unit

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 12:00am -- katie

Photo: A temporary hospital unit will be provided by the Vermont Department of Health for a joint emergency preparedness drill involving UVM Health Network Porter Medical Center, Middlebury College and the Vermont Department of Health on September 13-14.  The temporary hospital will be set-up in Kenyon Arena on the College campus.

From Friday, September 13, to Saturday, September 14, UVMHN Porter Medical Center, Middlebury College and the Vermont Department of Health will be conducting a joint emergency preparedness exercise to create a 40-bed temporary hospital unit within Chip Kenyon Arena on the College campus.

The Vermont Department of Health currently maintains two 20-Bed Portable Hospital units, each packaged in a 28’ tow-behind trailer readily available to medical facilities in need.  During an emergency, they can be activated independently or together as a 40-bed unit.

According to Porter spokesperson Ron Hallman, this exercise will help prepare Porter and our community for any future medical event that would require setting up a “temporary hospital” outside of the existing Porter facility.  “There are several scenarios when it would be beneficial to deploy a portable hospital system during an actual emergency, such as when part or all of the hospital is damaged by fire or otherwise not available for use or during an acute medical surge of patients temporarily exceeding a facility’s capacity,” he said.

The portable hospital units, which resemble large tents from the exterior, are designed to be placed either indoors or outdoors, and do include an electric generator and a portable heating and cooling system.  Basic medical supplies such as needles, syringes, blood pressure cuffs, goggles, gowns and gloves are also provided as part of the portable hospital unit.

According the VDH, the units take between 3-4 hours to set up, and would be staffed by Porter employees during a real emergency.  During this exercise, volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps of Addison and Rutland Counties will assist with the set-up on Friday morning, and staff from Porter and the College will be on hand for observation and tours.

“Middlebury College is pleased to collaborate with Porter Medical Center and the Vermont Department of Health,” said Sarah Ray, director of media relations at Middlebury. “We’re glad that we can provide a location for important emergency training and that we can work together as community partners.”

For a true emergency, the Vermont Department of Health estimates a response time of less than four hours plus travel time to the receiving location. When needed, a hospital would request a portable hospital from the Vermont Emergency Management’s (VEM) watch officer.

“This type of collaborative exercise and emergency response preparation is vital to ensuring that our community is as prepared as possible for whatever unanticipated event occurs so that we can continue to meet our mission and care for our patients,” Hallman added.


About The University of Vermont Health Network

The University of Vermont Health Network is an academic health system that is comprised of six affiliate hospitals, a multi-specialty medical group, and a home health agency. We serve the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives.  Our partners include:

Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our hospitals remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.


About Middlebury

Middlebury College, founded in 1800, is a Vermont-based undergraduate educational institution known for its leadership in language education, international studies, and environmental studies. The College offers its students a broad curriculum embracing the arts, humanities, literature, foreign languages, social sciences, and natural sciences.

In addition to the undergraduate college, Middlebury operates the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, a leading international professional graduate school based in Monterey, California; the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad in 16 countries and multiple cities around the globe; the Middlebury Language Schools, which celebrated their centennial in 2015 and educate 1,500 students each summer; the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, founded in 1920 and offering summer classes in Ripton, Vermont; Oxford, England; and Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences in Ripton, Vermont; and the Middlebury School of the Environment in Kunming and Dali, China.