The purpose of this study was to compare disaster preparedness of a Level I Trauma Center with performance in an actual disaster. Previous disaster response evaluations have shown that the key to succeeding in responding to a catastrophic event is to anticipate the event, plan the response, and practice the plan. The Emergency Management Team had identified natural disaster as the hospital's highest threat. The hospital also served as the regional hospital for the Louisiana Health Resources and Service Administration Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.
The hospital master disaster plan, including the Code Gray annex, was retrospectively reviewed and compared with the actual events that occurred after Hurricane Katrina. Vital support areas were evaluated for adequacy using a systematic approach. In addition, a survey of 10 key personnel from trauma and emergency medicine present during Hurricane Katrina was conducted. The survey of vital support areas were scored as adequate (3 pts), partially adequate (2 pts), or inadequate (1 pt).
Ninety-three percent of the line items on the Code Gray Checklist were accomplished before landfall of the storm. The results of the survey of vital support areas were water-3.0, food-2.4, sanitation-1.5, communication-1.4, and power-1.5.
Despite identifying the threat of a major hurricane, preparing a response plan, and exercising the plan, a major medical center can be overwhelmed by a catastrophic disaster like Hurricane Katrina. We offer our lessons-learned as an aid for other medical centers that are developing and exercising their plans.