The Princeton Packet
June 6, 1979
Rescue squads, hospital get a workout
Double disaster (drill) strikes at J&J
by Joseph Sapia
MONTGOMERY – There was a disaster at the Johnson and Johnson Baby Products plant Sunday, June 3, with about 35 victims but no one got hurt.
The event was staged by the Fifth District of the New Jersey State First Aid Council. The district, which is one of 23 in the stale, consists of first aid squads from the Somerset County area.
The drill was necessary for the Somerset Medical center for accrediting purposes. Josephine Anderson, publicity director of the hospital, said the hospital has a two- year accreditation.
AT ABOUT 11 A M. Sunday, the victims were made-up at the Montgomery Township First Aid Squad building. The victims, local residents and Johnson and Johnson employees, were made to look as though they had bloody bodies, broken bones and serious burns. One man walked around with “his” intestines hanging out.
“They really make it realistic,” said Frances Wigley, president of the Montgomery squad. “We make them as realistic as we can.”
At the Johnson and Johnson facility, two mini-disasters were staged. At about l p.m., a fire was started at the truck door area of the plant and the first alarms went out.
The first rescue unit to arrive on the scene was the Johnson and Johnson plant emergency team (PET).
“This is the first real thing they ever handled,” said Grant Parrish, chief of ETS.
Mr. Parrish said there are four PETs at the Johnson and Johnson facility. Two shifts work per day, one assigned to each 12-hour shift. There are 10 members of PET per shift, Mr. Parrish said.
He also said that Johnson and Johnson has a nurse on duty around the clock.
ABOUT FIVE victims were involved in the first mini-disaster. First aid squads from Hopewell, Princeton, Rocky Hill, Montgomery and Hillsborough assisted PET at the scene and transported victims. Montgomery firemen were also at the scene.
The second mini-disaster took place at a Johnson and Johnson construction site. About 25 victims were involved.
The victims were scattered throughout the dark in the incomplete building. Rescuers had to search to find victims and then treatment was started. Emergency lighting was also provided by the Princeton First Aid Squad disaster truck.
When the victims arrived at the hospital’s emergency room, they were met by a triage team consisting of a doctor and two registered nurses. A unit clerk was nearby to record information.
THE DOCTOR gave a preliminary diagnosis, while the clerk recorded information. After the doctor gave his preliminary diagnosis, a nurse wrote a “D,” “I,” “M” or “E” on the victim’s forehead.
The letters on the victims’ foreheads are derived from the DIME method, according to Ms. Anderson. Each letter stands for the type of treatment the victim requires (Delayed, Immediate. Minimal, in Extremis or deceased).
The unit clerk wrote down information such as victim’s name and address, the tentative diagnosis (urgent, less urgent and least urgent) and the type of surgery the victim required (major, minor and first aid).
The victims were then treated appropriately.
ONE PROBLEM that arose in the field was that some squad units lacked radios with the countywide frequency. There were also general communication problems.
The Fifth District committee will discuss the problems and try to work out ways to avoid them in the case of a real disaster.
No real injuries occurred at the disaster drill. However, one Montgomery fireman caught the Fifth District off guard when he faked a heart attack. After the proper treatment began, according to one committeeman, the fireman showed he was faking.
MS. ANDERSON said an accreditation team from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals visits the hospital every two years. The hospital must meet standards regarding patient needs, administration and the hospital’s physical plant.
The hospital must show proof of the semi-annual drills to the accreditation group, according to Ms. Anderson. The accreditation group is sponsored by the American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Hospital Association and American Medical Association.
Ms. Anderson said accreditation is voluntary for the hospitals. However, if the hospital is not accredited, the hospital is not reimbursed for Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Patients’ bills.
According to Ms. Anderson, 80 percent of the hospital’s patients are covered by Medicare. Medicaid and Blue Cross insurance.
WHILE THE DRILL takes place, a hospital committee from the Fifth District of the New Jersey State First Aid Council evaluates the field performance.
Ms. Anderson said the drill benefits both the rescue squads and the hospital.
“They have to practice working together,” said Ms Anderson.
Nick Huzinec. publicity director for the Fifth District, also said it was good practice for the squads.
Mr. Huzinec said most of the squads that participated in the event did not officially know about the drill.
“ON THE WHOLE, this is a surprise drill for them,” said Mr. Huzinec. “For the hospital, this should be a surprise drill.”
When the alarms were sounded notifying the squads, it was announced over the communications system that it was a drill. This was done to prevent accidents as a result of squads hurrying to the scene and so as not to interfere with important plans of squad members.
Mr. Huzinec said that no town will be stripped of its equipment, putting them in a dangerous situation, for a drill.
The state is divided into 23 districts so different areas can function as a unit in time of a disaster.