Not your average tornado drill: City tests emergency preparednes - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Not your average tornado drill: City tests emergency preparedness

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tyler put their emergency preparedness to the test with a very realistic weather drill. In the drill, the north wing of East Texas Medical Center in Tyler was struck by a tornado.

The scenario was inspired by the real-life tornado emergency Joplin, MO faced in 2011. There, 161 people were killed in a tornado, including six people who were at a Joplin hospital. The hospital was destroyed during the storm.

Six floors of East Texas Medical Center staff members put the hospital's emergency plans to the test. Their patients were actors pretending to be in serious need of medical attention after an imaginary tornado hit the hospital Tuesday morning.

"Code black in the north end of the hospital," said a voice over the hospital intercom.

On one floor, we found three students playing the roles of pregnant mothers. One actor had just delivered her baby through a c-section when the tornado struck. The baby's father was knocked out by debris from the tornado, and another mom-to-be couldn't walk herself down the stairs because an epidural had her numb from the waist down.

The nurses had to overcome each challenge by wheeling, rolling or even dragging their patients to safety.

Inside the hospital's command center administrators helped organize their crews. As part of the drill, 140 patients were evacuated and much of the hospital was without power, water and medical gases.

Some of the "patients" were Whitehouse High School students interested in the medical profession.

"It was cool to be able to know that we're helping with something like this," said Taylor Conaway.

"They took me to a stable place and put me in a chair and evacuated me down the stairs, and once I got downstairs I had my child and they put it in an incubator," said Hannah Reed.

At the City of Tyler's communication headquarters, all of the key players in a real-life emergency situation were hard at work.

"What we're looking at is what's the best way to handle evacuations... if there's damage, rescues, people trapped and stuff like that," explained Tyler Fire Chief Tim Johnson.

When the drill wrapped up, there were four pretend fatalities, but dozens of East Texans had very important practice under their belts.

Even though the city says the drill went very well, their work isn't over. They'll have a meeting to come up with plans to do even better for the next drill or real-life scenario, should there be one.

We've put together a slideshow of photos from Tuesday's drill at East Texas Medical Center. If you'd like to see those photos, click here.

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