The Booneville Community Hospital participated in a drill last week in which an earthquake affected most of the western portion of the state.
For local purposes, the drill had a unique incident in which one of the injured also happened to be a member of the media, specifically editor Glenn Parrish
Shortly after 8:30 a.m. Thursday the drill — featuring hospitals and clinics throughout the region, including Mercy Medical Center in Paris as well as hospitals in Danville, Waldron, Ozark and Fort Smith — started with a report of the earthquake.
Among the buildings highlighted for collapse was the Booneville Democrat office where the editor sustained an injury, apparently from falling debris that left his left arm immobile.
Able to transport himself to the emergency room, Parrish there was examined and, because there were other more severe injuries he was moved to a triage area. When it became apparent that area was needed he was moved again.
All the while, acting as a journalist, he repeatedly left his assigned area to try to assess the situation, and even took photographs.
The treatment Parrish was slated for included an x-ray of his entire left arm, from the shoulder to the wrist.
Of course the assumption could be drawn, as Parrish was actually covering the drill for the paper, he had acquired access to the treatment area to do so. Or did he?
The drill was conducted for a couple of hours, after which each of the hospitals met through a video conference to discuss pros and cons about the exercise.
For Booneville the pros were that a power loss was accommodated by a generator that was sufficient to operate the hospital and a loss of natural gas supply did not diminish the capacity, according to local coordinator Richard Morton.
"With this drill, which was our Katrina, we found the first 72 hours with no outside help," said Morton. "Transportation was stopped since highway bridges were damaged, many older buildings we badly damaged or completely destroyed, including the old hospital and the Court House.
"Since Thursday was court day in Booneville many people that we count on in emergency situations were not available, including most police officers who were in the Court House during the quake.
However, a plus was the use of cadaver dogs from a local source, Four Paws Search and Rescue. The dogs flagged seven casualties in the collapse of the old hospital.
That number of bodies, in addition to six other casualties highlighted a shortage of body bags. Morton said the use of the dogs also highlighted a need for an animal to find survivors.
Also listed as shortcomings were an "overwhelmed" radio communications monitor and the problem with triage area experienced by Parrish and a lack of training by personnel pressed into service for needs such as moving patients from one area to another.
In northern Logan County, Mercy Paris had power issues with a generator supplying only for low voltage in areas of the hospital that would need more power.
On the plus side the Paris hospital was able to work out an agreement with the Ozark hospital to make sure they had ample water supplies.
Paris officials also broached a concern about how and when to contact Trauma Center officials and the transport of patients to that facility.