Highland receives designation as disaster partner

Published 8:35 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

Late last month Highland Community Hospital received designation as a Keesler Air Force Base’s National Disaster Medical System partner.

This designation puts Highland as one of 25 other hospitals capable of helping with injured people in instances of natural or other disasters.

Highland Administrator Mark Stockstill said this designation was achieved in part due to the structural integrity of the new hospital and the emergency systems the building employs.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Picayune’s hospital is capable of withstanding a category 3 hurricane, and is equipped with a generator capable of putting out 2 megawatts.

Stockstill said the generator holds 22,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and if the hospital runs at 40 percent electrical capacity that amount of fuel could potentially run the hospital for more than two weeks.

Representatives with Keesler were contacted by Stockstill to become part of the network, and once they took the tour they were visibly impressed, Stockstill said. 

“They were extremely impressed about our operational capabilities and ability to run in a natural disaster,” Stockstill said.

This designation allows the hospital access to specialized training and funding that could reimburse them for expenses incurred during a disaster situation.

By utilizing the State Medical Asset Resource Tracking Tool, hospitals can keep track of how many available beds can be used for disaster victim care. Stockstill said this helps prevent the unavailability of services to the community in which the hospital resides.

In times of war the hospital could also provide care to injured soldiers. This designation also helps the hospital provide proper care for victims of some other disaster, such as a train derailment that involved chemicals, a bus accident on the interstate or an act of bioterrorism, through regular drill training. These drills help them react to disasters that occur without warning, Stockstill said.

He used the Christmas Day tornado of 2012 as an example.

“That was a situation where you need to be ready in a moments notice to deal with a surge of patients,” Stockstill said.

Highland also has access to facilities that allow the landing of larger aircraft. Stockstill said the helipad at the hospital can accommodate a large helicopter such as a Blackhawk, and Picayune’s Municipal Airport can allow a larger plane to land in an emergency situation.