After Soda Springs Tremors, Hospitals Ready for Any Situation

POCATELLO - Most people who happened to be anywhere near the areas between Soda Springs and Pocatello over the weekend, certainly felt some ground-shaking taking place.

A series of more than 60 earthquakes rattled southeastern Idaho between Saturday night and Monday afternoon. 

While there was no significant damage reported, local hospitals have spent time preparing for a scenario where an earthquake could cause more serious destruction.

Portneuf Medical Center spokesman Todd Blackinton said the hospital performs an evaluation every year to cover any natural disasters most likely to hit eastern Idaho.

"We are prepared as we could ever be and know how to be if a natural disaster were to happen," Blackinton said, while showing the Emergency Operations Plan - a large handbook covering every topic imaginable. It covers: evacuations, hazardous material spills, severe weather, earthquakes, and bomb threats, to name a few.

Luckily, none of those situations have arisen for hospital personnel. Hopefully, they never will.

"You could say, it's kind of like the Eclipse, where we prepare for whatever scenario might come at us. We're prepared for it. Most likely, we probably won't have to enact it, but at least we're still prepared," he added.

Blackinton said, if an earthquake were to happen and the power went down, the hospital would be able to run for a few days after that, with enough resources to still be able to treat patients.

He said, the six year old building was built with joint that could flex during an earthquake as well.

However, that is not the biggest concern when it comes to natural disasters.

"We feel what's most likely to have a major impact on the community is a massive blizzard that would isolate the region, where the roads are shut down and people are not able to get in or out. That's the scenario we talk about most frequently."

Still, he said that situation has never presented itself, and hopefully never will.

The most recent emergency situation that came closest to enacting the hospital's "Code Black" was the Charlotte Fire. 

"The Charlotte Fire is still fresh in everybody's mind. In this case, we enacted the 'Code Black' just in case we needed to care for a number of people hurt in the fire. This meant, nobody (hospital staff) goes home, they understand all of the resources at hand, and we have someone in th administrative office directing the operation to make sure all of our resources are available."

Blackinton added, PMC works closely to communicate with other hospitals in the region to make sure they could care for any of the smaller hospitals' overflow of patients, while making sure everyone is on the same page of the emergency response plan.

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