Keller Army Community Hospital at West Point executed a complete evacuation drill May 21.

"This was a test of our emergency preparedness," Lt. Col. Thomas A. Bell, deputy commander for administration, said. "We need to know and exercise the essential tasks for safely evacuating the hospital during an emergency."

The drill also helped familiarize hospital staff with the newly purchased patient evacuation equipment-the Paraslide and the Stryker Stair Chair.

"This new equipment allows hospital staff members to evacuate patients throughout the hospital utilizing minimal manpower," Hospital Safety Manager Rick Biehl said. "In most emergency situations, we don't evacuate the hospital. Instead, fire doors and fire walls are designed to contain potential fires. We might move patients horizontally--but rarely would we expect to move all of them out of the facility."

The unannounced exercise started as a fire drill, and then progressed into an evacuation drill with volunteers portraying

The drill tested the staff's reaction as medics and nurses transferred these mock inpatients with evacuation litters(paraslides) and stair chairs.

They were evacuated from the third and fourth floors of the building, using the stairs, into the waiting ambulances.

The staff used the state-of-the-art evacuation equipment, new to KACH, that is specifically designed for this purpose.

The ambulances then transported the patients to the Youth Center
gymnasium for holding.

Five patients were moved to the center in less than 20 minutes and then prepared for transport to other locations.

Keller commander Col. Michael Deaton said, "We hope we will never have to evacuate patients, but we all rest easier knowing that we can do it if needed."