Regional Health Care Coalition Conducts Exercise In Bellingham

Region 1 Health Care CoalitionLast week on Friday, June 22, the St. Luke’s Health Education Center in Bellingham was host to the Region 1 Health Care Coalition “tabletop” exercise, which involved over 150 participants representing several dozen organizations within the 5-county region (Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island and San Juan). The goal of the Health Care Coalition is “to have a cohesive group of healthcare related organizations that can provide seamless medical care for the citizens of our Region during an emergency.” The coalition pursues this goal through meeting regularly to identify operational objectives, which are then developed and tested by conducting periodic exercises such as the one that occurred last Friday.

A “tabletop” exercise is a discussion-based group activity typically driven by a hypothetical scenario that requires participants to assess how they and their organizations might respond to that incident. Most exercises of this nature are designed to push participants beyond their “comfort zones” by utilizing rare but entirely plausible scenario situations. For Friday’s exercise, attendees were challenged with assessing and discussing how the region would respond in a coordinated manner to an intentional release of a biological infectious agent, resulting in ill patients throughout the 5-county region.

As intended, the exercise promoted active discussion, challenged some assumptions, confirmed some established protocols, and raised some important questions still to be addressed over the coming months.

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